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" A mind perhaps the finest I ever met with" T. CAMPBELL 






LORD BACON (First words of his letter sending a 
copy of the " De Augmentis" to Trinity College, 
Cambridge, the place of his early education). 








All rights reserved 


THIS Memoir appears, it must be confessed, rather 
late. It was in the year 1806 that the little world of 
Tom Wedgwood's friends, relations, and acquaintances 
a little world, but it included some of the most 
notable Englishmen of the time were expecting the 
appearance of a book which was to give an account of 
his life and character, with an essay expounding his 
philosophical theories. This essay was to be written by 
Sir James Mackintosh, and the Memoir by Coleridge. 
But neither of these eminent persons did what he pro- 
mised. It is not certain that either even began to do 
it. Of Mackintosh, Coleridge once wrote : " He is 
one of those men with whom the meaning to do a 
thing means nothing." Of Coleridge himself this was 
absolutely true, and it was not quite untrue of Mackin- 
tosh ; for he was noted for his infinite capacity for 
procrastination, as if his rule of life was never to do 
a thing to-day which could possibly be put off till 
to-morrow. The plan of a joint Memoir by two such 
collaborators, two men, as it happened, not the least in 
sympathy one with the other, was thus virtually hope- 
less from the first. Mackintosh, moreover, had gone 
to be a Judge in India, and Coleridge was nearing that 


saddest time in his life when his best friends could only 
describe his condition (produced by opium) as one of 
" paralysis of the will." So it has been Tom Wedg- 
wood's fate to be but faintly remembered 

carpere lividas * 
obliviones . . . 

caret quia vate sacro. 

But it seemed to me that, in spite of the lapse of 
time, partly indeed by reason of it, it might now be 
worth while for the humblest of biographers to essay a 
modest record of the man, in part reparation of the 
failure of those two sadly untrustworthy vates sacri. 
The- task seemed to come naturally in my way, as, 
through the accident of private connection, I had 
happened to have read a great number of old family 
letters of the Wedgwoods, preserved by the descen- 
dants of the photographer's brother Josiah, including 
a mass of correspondence formerly in the possession of 
Mrs. Charles Darwin, the last survivor of his many 
nieces and nephews, who died at the age of eighty- 
eight in 1896. 

This year 1902, the centenary of the date which 
justifies our calling him the " first photographer," seemed 
a fitting time for putting some account of him before 
the world, and for examining the question, which, so 
far as I know, has not been critically discussed before, 
whether that title properly applies to him. It was the 
more necessary to do this, as the story of what he 
really did had become confused with a foolish legend, 
a complete misrepresentation of the facts, which had 
unluckily been put forward in what was the only book 
(prior to the recent appearance of a notice in the 


" Dictionary of National Biography ") giving information 
about him.* 

Only two persons, as far as I can ascertain, have been 
described as doing, or possibly doing, anything photo- 
graphic before the time of Wedgwood, the German 
Heinrich Schulze, and the French physicist Charles ; 
but an examination of the accounts of what they did 
clearly disposes, I think, of both claims. Knowing 
next to nothing of the technique of photographic pro- 
cesses, I should have no right to say this if the question 
turned on technical points, but that, as the reader of 
pp. 218-240 will see, is not the case. 

When one thinks of the astonishing developments of 
the art in these latter years, the now familiar " living 
pictures," the achievements of the camera in stellar 
astronomy, and its importance as an aid to various kinds 
of literary, scientific, and artistic research, with the 
collateral wonders that have sprung out of photography, 
the strange mysteries of Rontgen, Becquerel, and 
Cathode "Rays," with their suggestions of fresh reve- 
lations of yet unknown natural forces, the poor little 
results got by Wedgwood may well seem insignificant. 
But there remains the fact that the step he took was 
the first step, the premier pasj and his the original 

* "A Group of Englishmen," by Eliza Meteyard, 1872. In this 
book Miss Meteyard, who had written a life of Josiah the famous 
potter, gives a pleasant gossipy account of his sons and other relatives. 
It has been rightly called " an agreeable melange" but it is full of 
inaccuracy, the authoress habitually mixing up guesswork with fact. 

t " Ah ! Monsieur le Cardinal, dans de pareilles affaires, il n'y a 
que le premier pas qui coute." The affaire under discussion when 
Mme. Du Deffand said this was the famous walk of Saint Denis after 
his decapitation on Montmartre. The Cardinal had been wondering 
how the saint could possibly have walked all the way to Paris. 


picture which has never been engraved, nor, I think, 
publicly exhibited. 

I am under like obligation to Mr. Godfrey Wedg- 
wood (of Idlerocks, Staffordshire), who placed at my 
disposal the whole of the MSS. left by the photo- 
grapher, and has also very kindly allowed me to re- 
produce in miniature the very interesting picture by 
Stubbs, which includes the whole of Tom Wedgwood's 
family as it was in the year 1780. 

For valuable assistance on specific points my thanks 
are due to Lord Kelvin and to Professor Liveing of 
Cambridge, who obligingly answered inquiries as to 
Tom Wedgwood's physical science work ; as also to 
Mrs. Henry Sand ford, who kindly allowed me to see 
some letters of the Wedgwoods, not printed in her Life 
of Tom Poole. I may mention that I should have printed 
a remarkable estimate of the character of Tom Wedg- 
wood written soon after his death by Tom Poole, had 
not this been already given at length in that biography, 
a book, it is needless to say, which should be read by 
any one interested in Coleridge and his circle. 


November 1902. 



PREFACE ... . . . . . vii 


I. EARLY YEARS, 1771-1788 I 



IV. THE FAMILY CIRCLE, 1795-1796 .... 39 

1797-1798 . . 49 

1800 . . . . . . . . 65 


1802 102 



AND VOLUNTEERING, 1803-1804 . . .143 

XII. THE LAST YEAR, 1804-1805 . . . . 166 












PHOTOGRAPHY . . . . 246 



F. PRIESTLEY IN AMERICA . . . . . 253 


WORLD. 262 


" D. C." " Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a Narrative of the Events of 
his Life." By James Dykes Campbell (Macmillan's, 1894). 

(Macmillan's, 1893), edited by J. Dykes Campbell, with a 
Biographical Introduction, being that which was reproduced in 
1 894 as a separate work. 

T. P." "Thomas Poole and his Friends." By Mrs. Henry 
Sandford. Two vols. 1888. 

" COLERIDGE LETTERS." The Collection edited by Mr. E. H. 
Coleridge, 1895. Two vols. 8 vo, paged continuously. 


TOM WEDGWOOD. From a chalk drawing belonging to Miss 

Wedgwood, of Leith Hill Place. Artist unknown Fronthpiect 


1780. From the picture by George Stubbs, R.A. (1724- 
1806), belonging to Mr. Godfrey Wedgwood of Idlerocks, 
Staffordshire. (It was begun in 1780 but occupied the 
painter, at intervals, several years.) It shows Josiah 
Wedgwood of Etruria (1730-1795) with his wife Sarah 
Wedgwood (d. 1815) and their children. These are 
(beginning on the right) John (1766-1844), eldest son, 
afterwards of Cote House; Josiah (1769-1843), afterwards 
of Gunville Park and MaerHall ; Susannah (176 5-1 8 17), 
afterwards Mrs. Robert Darwin and mother of Charles 
Darwin ; Catharine (1774-1823), girl pulling carriage ; 
Tom (1771-1805), photographer and friend of Coleridge ; 
Sarah (1776-1856), girl by carriage; Mary Anne, in 
carriage, born 1778, died in childhood. The spire in 
the distance, on left, is Wolstanton Church. The object 
on the table under the tree is the Portland or Barberini 
Vase, Wedgwood's copies of which greatly advanced his 
fame. In the distance on the right are the chimneys of 
Burslem, where his pottery had previously been. Stubbs 
was the famous animal painter of the time, and was 
especially noted for his pictures of horses ... 6 

ETRURIA HALL AND POTTERY in 1775. From a drawing in 
the possession of Mr. Godfrey Wedgwood. The Hall, 
T. Wedgwood's birthplace, is the large house on the left. 




That in the centre is " Little Etruria," the house built for 
Bentley, Wedgwood's partner. It was pulled down long 
since. The buildings below it are the Works (still 
carried on by Wedgwood's great-great-grandsons). The 
canal runs between the Works and the grounds of the 
Hall. The distant tower and windmill are at Hanley . i ^ 


JOSIAH WEDGWOOD (of Gunville Park and Maer Hall), brother 
of T. Wedgwood. From the oil painting by Owen, in 
possession of Miss Wedgwood of Leith Hill Place . . 38 

portrait by Romney, in possession of Miss Wedgwood. 
Painted when she was about twenty-eight ... 42 


Tom Wedgwood in 1801-1805 ..... 95 



*TARRANT GUNVILLE CHURCH. Burial-place of T. Wedgwood 180 

* For these four views the author is indebted to the kindness of the Editors of 
Photography. They are from photographs taken in 1902 for the Centenary number 
(May 6, 1902) of that publication. 






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<*\ ^. !- XT 

g ^W a 

i .ipT 


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X* S * 

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W d. 




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* The house still exists ; for many years past it has belonged to 
the Duchy of Lancaster, which owns the minerals under it and 
the surrounding lands, and is now used for purposes connected with 
the mines. 

Thomas is often called the third son, one of his elder brothers 
having died in infancy. 


While this work was still in the press, Mr. 
Litchfield died at Cannes on January 11, 1903. 
Owing to his absence from England and other 
causes there had been delay in its appearance. 
He had greatly hoped that it would appear 
hi 1902, the Centenary of Tom Wedgwood's 
photographic work 



1771 1788 

THOMAS WEDGWOOD, fourth son of Josiah Wedg- 
wood, the famous potter, was born on May 14, 1771, 
at Etruria Hall, near Stoke-upon-Trent. The hall 
was a new house which his father had built as a resi- 
dence for the family, hard by the Pottery, the potting 
business having been removed from Burslem to this 
site a year or two previously.^ When only six years 
old the boy was sent to a school kept by Mr. Holland, 
a Unitarian minister at Bolton, where his brothers 
already were, and remained there two years. The 
method of his education was a matter which gave his 
father many doubts. Josiah Wedgwood's letters to his 
partner and friend, Bentley, contain frequent specula- 
tions on the questions as to what his boys should learn, 
and how to secure their having a healthy bodily life 
while the schooling went on. 

" Erasmus Darwin," he says in one letter (October 
1779), "has approved my idea of curtailing the educa- 

* The house still exists ; for many years past it has belonged to 
the Duchy of Lancaster, which owns the minerals under it and 
the surrounding lands, and is now used for purposes connected with 
the mines. 

Thomas is often called the third son, one of his elder brothers 
having died in infancy. 


tion of my boys in order to establish their health, and 
give the more strength to their constitution." Dr. 
Darwin advises him to keep them at home, and this he 
does. They are to have four Latin lessons a week, 
" only to keep up what they know, till I have decided 
as to this part of their learning." " I am distressed to 
find out a sort of compromise between the body and 
the mind that shall do the least injury to either." 

In another letter he describes the regime at length. 
They " read English before breakfast, newspaper or 
travels, writing one hour with Mr. Swift ; writing 
French exercises ; then ride or drive their hoop or 
jump over a cord, or use any exercise they please for 
an hour." Later in the day there are two French 
lessons, and " some accounts in the evening, in which 
the girl takes part." 

The earliest letter of Tom which has been preserved 
is one written when he was nearly twelve years old, 
giving an account of a scene during the bread riots, 
which broke out in the Potteries in 1783. His father 
is in London. 

Tom Wedgwood to his father, Josiah 


Wednesday, March II, 1783. 

As I thought you would like to hear how the mob went on 
I will tell you. 

On Sunday all was quiet. There was a meeting at Newcastle 
(at which my brother John was present) to consider what was 
the best way to quell the Mob and to keep up the market. 
John subscribed jlo ; a good many others also subscribed. 

On Monday the mob came to Bilington's where there was 


a meeting of the Master Potters, Dr. Falkener, Mr. Ing, 
Mr. Sneyd of Bellmont, and harrangued to the Mob on the 
bad way they had begun in to lessen the price of corn, as did 
my brother John and also Major Sneyd (who came with the 
Militia) was exceedingly active in speaking to them. He 
said, " Why do you rise," and he answer'd him " on the same 
account that your father went out of the country." This 
distressed him so much that he cried. All their speaking was 
to no effect. 

They then raised a subscription. John subscribed ^20. 
This they said would not have been raised without we had 
risen. This speech pussled them much. They then read the 
riot act and said if they did not disperse in a hour's time they 
would fire on them. An hour gone and they did not disperse. 
Dr. Falkener had got the word " Fire " in his mouth when two 
men dropt down by accident which stopt him and he con- 
sidered about it more. The Woemen were much worse than 
the men ; as for example, Parson Sneyd had got about 30 men 
to follow him he hurraing and the an all [sic] but a woman 
cried Nay, nay that wunna do, that wunna do, and so they 
turned back again ; it was agreed that the corn taken in the 
boat* should be sold at a fair price. 

Bolton, Barlow are taken up and gone to Stafford the rest of 
the days have been quiet. John and Mr. Lomas are gone to 
Stone. They all send their love to you and comt 8 . to Mr. and 
Mrs. Byerley. 

I am, 

Your dutifull son, 

Turn over. 

P.S. I would have written this letter well but I have got 
the head ach, but did not like to miss the opportunity of a 
box. T.W. 

* A barge which was stopped and plundered at Etruria, as it was 
making its way to Manchester, the mob imagining that, as the corn 


Another letter to his father, of about a year later, 
gives a pleasant glimpse of his home life, and shows 
him as certainly very much grown up for a boy of 
thirteen. It shows, too, that he was on charmingly 
easy terms with his father. 

Tom Wedgwood to his father 


April 20, 1/84. 

By the time this letter reaches you I hope you will have had 
a pleasant journey and got safe and sound to London. Matthew 
Mills is very busy at the Garden Pools repairing the dams at 
the lower Pool, which the cows have damaged very much that 
go to drink there, and unless some remedy is thought of to secure 
the dam, it will be considerably damaged. Now making a 
drinking place just below the lower Pool with the water that 
runs from the Pool and fencing a post and railing round the 
dam, will be good security. If you will give me the post of 
Superintendant of your pools, I will see that they are done pro- 
perly and soon. My hotbed is compleated all but glazing. The 
Bricklayers have pulled down part of the lower wall and are 
building it up again and will finish at the end of the week. 

I have had several large fish at my line lately (fishing with a 
Gudgeon) and leaving it in all night. Some large fish at the 
top Pool struck at my Bait as I lifted it up. Another, my rod 
drawn in the water and the bait eat of. Still another, half my 
bait eat of and the other half drawn up the line. 

I'd be very glad if you would give me that post for indeed 

was going out of the district, the owners were trying to raise prices 
against the Staffordshire people. John Wedgwood, Tom's eldest 
brother, is at this time a lad of seventeen. The reply of the mob 
to Major Sneyd is enigmatical. Possibly Mr. Wedgwood would 
understand why it made him cry. The two men taken to Stafford 
were convicted, and Barlow executed. 



1 would take very good care and always keep them in good 
order. Mathew only waits only for Command to go on and 
finish his job. 

My Aunt is much better and will drink Beer and brandy and 
I don't know what. I wish you would get me a pair of Buckles 
and send them immediately, for I have got none but a broken 
pair. I shall furnish all your pools with plenty of baits as I 
have now near a dozen hands under employment. I have got 
leave to fish of Mr. Stockley and the miller will get leave of 
the tenant of Mr. Allen and J. Beech of Mr. Jarvis, so then 
for Wilkes and liberty. 

Give my love to my sister and will answer her letter very 
soon. Mary Anne is very well indeed and was much pleased 
with her journey. 

Almost everybody have colds but I have escap'd yet. Mr. 
Chisolm is very well and sends his best respects to you and 

Give my best love to my Mother, sister and John and should 
be happy in hearing from them. Pray remember me to Mr. 
and Mrs. Byerley and believe me to be, 

Your dutifull son, 


Would have written it better but had not time. 

(Address on cover : Mr. Wedgwood, London. No postmark ; 
it no doubt went in the box.) 

The person who had most to do with the education 
of Tom * Wedgwood, after his father, was Alexander 
Chisolm, Josiah Wedgwood's faithful secretary and 
chemical assistant. Chisolm came to Etruria, a man 
of middle age, in 1780, when Tom was nine years old. 

* I shall refer to him thus throughout the book, as he was always 
so-called, both in and outside of the family circle. 


He was a good chemist, a man of education, and 
at least something of a classical scholar. The boys 
became much attached to him. The various other 
influences which would help to mould the mind 
and character of a boy growing up in the Etruria 
household may be easily imagined from what we know 
of Josiah Wedgwood and his life.* Among the friends 
of the great Potter were some of the foremost English- 
men of the time. He was intimate with James Watt 
from 1768 onwards. Priestley, who settled in Bir- 
mingham in 1780, owed much to his friendship. 
Wedgwood sent him annually twenty-five guineas in 
aid of his expenditure on scientific experiments. With 
Erasmus Darwin and his family there was constant 
intercourse. Derby, where Darwin lived from about 
1781, was not far off, and the children of the two 
houses were intimate as well as the parents. James 
Keir of West Bromwich, ex-captain of foot and glass 
manufacturer, whom James Watt called " a mighty 
chemist and very agreeable man/' was one of the group. 
Richard Lovell Edgeworth was another. It was a 
circle in which " advanced " ideas prevailed, ideas which 

* Unfortunately there is no satisfactory biography of Josiah, the 
Potter. Miss Meteyard's two bulky volumes give a large amount of 
information about him, but, as sufficiently appears from her entirely 
mythical account of Tom Wedgwood's photography (see p. 241) 
no statement of hers can be trusted which is not confirmed by other 
evidence, while her persistent strain of magniloquent eulogy is a 
constant irritation to the reader. The little book by Mr. Smiles 
(1894) is a lively sketch of the man and his career, but it has many 
technical errors, and was evidently put together in great haste. The 
memoir in the " Dictionary of National Biography," by Professor 
Church, F.R.S., is (I am told by a high authority on the subject) 
excellently well done. 


were in great part a reverberation from the pre-revolu- 
tionary movement in France. All this could not fail 
to give a strong bent to Tom Wedgwood's mind. His 
training was scientific rather than literary, but we find 
him working hard at the Latin classics with Chisolm, 
and also with a tutor by name Lomas, who however, 
according to his brother Josiah's account, was a quite 
uninspiring teacher. A French prisoner was found to 
teach the boys French. 

In the autumn of 1786 (<*?/. fifteen), Tom joined his 
brother Josiah at Edinburgh University. The lads 
lived with Dr. Blacklock, the blind poet, who must 
have been an interesting man in many ways. He was 
one to whom the world owes something, for it was he 
who, at a critical moment in the life of Robert Burns, 
when the young poet, despairing of a career in Scotland, 
had resolved to leave his native country for ever and 
was on the point of embarking for the West Indies, 
induced him to give up the scheme and come to 

The letters of the two young men from Edinburgh 
show them, as one would expect, plentifully interested 
in the place and its student life. They are busy with 
their lectures and their various societies, and take a 
good deal of exercise golf, apparently, is the chief 

* " My chest was on its way to Greenock " (writes Burns to Dr. 
Moore, August 2, 1787) "when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a 
friend of mine overthrew all my schemes, by opening new prospects 
to poetic ambition. His opinion that I would meet with encourage- 
ment in Edinburgh for a second edition fixed me so much that away 
I posted for that city without a single acquaintance or a single letter 
of introduction." (" Currie's Life," Ed. 1800. See also Sir Leslie 
Stephen's account in " Diet. Nat. Biog.") 


form of it, which Jos expects will keep off Tom's 
headaches. Jos tells his father " the students here are 
not very genteel ; the Divinity students are the dirtiest 
set I ever saw ; a company of old potters look like 
gentlemen compared to them." 

Tom corresponds with Chisolm, chiefly on chemical 
topics ; his letters bristle with rows of the queer old 
symbols for gases, acids, and metals which were still 
then in use among chemists. Chisolm gives him wise 
advice about his studies ; his letters are big folio sheets, 
closely written in a clear and careful hand. Some read 
like chapters out of a chemical journal, discussions on 
what Priestley or Lavoisier is doing, and the conflicting 
theories of the day. He addresses the boy (who is 
only fifteen) with the ceremonious formality of the 

Alexander Chisolm to Tom Wedgwood 


Dec 23, 1786. 

I wrote to you a few lines two or three days ago along with 
some books, which I understand are not yet gone, and therefore 
I cannot let slip the opportunity of thanking you for the very 
sensible letter I received from you last night, and expressing my 
unfeigned pleasure in the avidity I observe in you for useful 
knowledge, and your assiduity in acquiring it. Your plan or 
study has my perfect approbation. . . . The classics I could 
wish to be a principal object this winter ; you can now read 
them with understanding ; you will soon read them with 

[Here follows much about the question of using translations, 
the Latin of Livy and of Buchanan, &c. ; then advice as to 
how to read to the blind Dr. Blacklock, not sinking the voice 


in the final syllables. At present let him not try to study 
Moral Philosophy or "Belles Lettres," but let Classics and 
Chemistry take his whole time.] 

Your elaboratory shall be taken care of [and this leads to a 
long chemical excursus.] 

I will only add that I am sincerely glad the salubrious exercise 
of golf is agreeable to you, and I recommend it to you as 
strongly for Saturdays as I would Chemistry or Classics any 
other day. 

Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis, 

Ut quemvis animo possis perferre laborem. 

Remember me to Jos, and believe me to be, 

Dear Sir, Your faithful & Obedient servant, 


Tom Wedgwood to his Father 

Dec. 31, 1786. 

# * * * * 

I have just got into a new society here, called the Philo- 
logical Society, in which I must exert all my oratory powers, 
which, as I never yet tried them in public, you know, may be very 
great ; but I dinna ken. There are some very clever members 
of it : I shall have to write a paper in a little time, but am as 
yet quite undetermined of the subject of it, and should be very 
thankful if you would help me a little in this. 


There has been a very disagreeable thing here [story of a 
student having tried to pass a forged bill at a shop]. He was 
sent to the Tolbooth (the prison). He stands no chance for his 
life. This unlucky affair will confirm the townspeople a bad 
opinion of the Irish gentry (He was one). There has already 
been one hanged, and several have taken French leave. 


I am come to the end of my paper, and so I shall finish with 
desiring you to 

Believe me. 

Yours affectionately, 


Auld Reekie, Dec r ., Saturday before New Year's Day, 1786. 

Josiah Wedgwood to *Alex r Chisolm 

January n, 1787. 

Tom began this letter and I shall finish it. ... The Philo- 
logical Society consists of 13 or 14 young men, among which 
are two or three very clever. I intend to write on the sublime 
... I like Dr. Blacklock more every day. . . . We had three 
visits from Mr. Burns, a natural poet ; his brother is a farmer 
and he was the ploughman, but had a very uncommon poetic 
turn. He is now publishing a second edition of his poems, to 
which I shall subscribe. Many of them are in the Scottish 

My love to all at Etruria, 

I am your much obliged friend, 


Tom Wedgwood spent two winter sessions, appa- 
rently, at Edinburgh, 1786-7 and 1787-8. In the 
spring of 1788 there was a scheme for his going to 
Rome ; but this dropped, and he remained at Etruria, 
taking part in the work of the pottery. We find him 
writing to his father, in March 1790, about such 
matters as the dismissal of apprentices at Etruria for 
over much swearing, and the colouring and furnishing 
of the London show-room in Greek Street. But his 
letters show him to be keenly eager, all this time, to go 
on with his studies in Natural Philosophy. This was the 


main motive of a scheme which he now proposed to his 

While at Edinburgh he had made the acquaintance 
of John Leslie, a young man about five years older than 
himself who had come there as a student of Theology, 
but had given up the intention of becoming a minister 
and was working at natural science. Tom and he had 
not been particularly intimate at Edinburgh, but they 
had since corresponded at intervals. Leslie, who had 
no private means his father was a carpenter had been 
to America as a travelling tutor, and was now without 
any definite plans, supporting himself in a precarious 
way by teaching and lecturing. Tom's proposition to 
his father was that Leslie should be asked to come to 
stay at Etruria to assist him and his brother Josiah in 
their laboratory work and scientific studies generally. 
His father agreed to this, and Leslie received the offer 
with rapturous delight. 

John Leslie to 'Tom Wedgwood 


Jprilis, 1790. 

To-day I received your very kind and flattering letter of the 
9th instant. Your uncommon manner of writing throws me 
into a maze of wonder, and transports me with heartfelt joy. 
What a charming picture of a polished, elegant, and feeling 
mind ! I am at a loss to answer your kindness. That warmth 
of affection, and that goodness of heart, give a lovely cast to 
human nature. A crowd of ideas at once rush upon me. That 
diffidence and extreme delicacy is highly pleasing ; but to me 
is unnecessary. Talk freely from you nothing can displease. 
. . . The idea of residing with a young man whose heart is 


of the same mould, and whose mind is so benevolent, so 
generous, and so enlarged, is beyond measure delightful. Every 
other view vanishes in an instant. Money, my dear friend, is 
to me no object. The situation which you describe is the most 
fortunate, the most happy I could picture in my imagination. . . . 

I am afraid, my dearest friend, you over-rate my real merit. 
. . . The smallness of my acquisitions will I hope be compen- 
sated by steady attention and warm affections. [Then follows 
an eulogy of the genius of Josiah Wedgwood, the father.] I 
have long been accustomed to admire the ingenuity and bold- 
ness which created a manufacture, that contributes more to the 
real glory and wealth of our country than our fleets and 
armies. . . . 

But I exhaust your patience and precious time with long 
epistles. I wait with trembling anxiety my happiness hangs 
upon your decision. 

I am, my dear Sir, 

Yours ever sincerely, 


Excuse this scrawl. 

This letter is a characteristic specimen of Leslie's 
epistolary style. Except when he happens to be writ- 
ing of thermometers or gases, we seem to be reading 
Mr. Collins in " Pride and Prejudice." The " scrawl " 
for which he excuses himself is a piece of quite perfect 
penmanship, without sign of erasure or alteration. 

It was a part of Tom Wedgwood's plan that he and 
Leslie should live together, not in the family house 
at Etruria, but in a separate house hard by. His 
father did not see the advantage of this, but Tom is 
urgent in arguing the point. Here is one of several 
letters in which he expounds his views. They dis- 
close intensely " earnest " views of life and duty. 



He is full of exalted ideas of self-culture, and of 
devotion to the service of mankind. 

Tom Wedgwood to his Father 

May 8, 1790. 


I rather suppose that you have formed a wrong idea of my 
intention. ... Be assured there is no danger of my entering 
into the selfish, insignificant character of a hermit. I know 
too well the purposes of my creation. I have conceived too 
exalted a notion of the real dignity of man, existing in Action 
from principle, and despise too heartily those mistaken beings 
who amuse themselves unprofitably in the mazes of meta- 
physical refinements and abstruse philosophy. My aim is to 
strengthen the power of reason by the habit of reflection, and 
by cultivating the virtues of the heart in a temporal [sic\ retire- 
ment from the world at large ; to purify the motives of conduct 
for what is Action unless the sources be pure ? With that open- 
ness which should subsist between a father and a son, I joyfully 
acquaint you that I have already made considerable progress in 
this most important work a thousand sensations convince me 
that in this confidence I am not misled by the illusions of 
vanity. . . . 

I am well aware that the next three or four years of my life 
are the most important. Manhood is the seal of man. Our 
passions and affections are all to be moderated and corrected in 
the season of youth. In this critical moment I shall strive hard 
to fashion myself so, that I may best perform the grand dutys 
[his spelling is not impeccable] of this life. I reflect every day 
on the nature of the relation between the creator and creature, 
and hope by these instructive speculations to arrive at the know- 
ledge of the purposes of creation, and hence of what these dutys 
consist in. The question is extremely intricate and compre- 
hensive, and can never receive a full decisive answer from human 
reason. . . . An inactive and virtuous life are incompatible, 


and I mean to exert myself for the good of my fellow crea- 
tures. . . . 

[In another letter]. Our main dutys are Beneficence and the 
Social. I can say for myself that whatever my situation and 
circumstances may be, I shall never sleep in the service of my 
fellow creatures. 

Promiscuous company has no allurements. ... I have a 
strong desire of enjoying the blessing the right, perhaps, of 
choosing my own company and of avoiding that I dislike, by 
easier methods than I have now recourse to. 

One may smile at many things in this letter, but 
we must remember that the writer is just nineteen 
years old, and that the time is ten months after the 
fall of the Bastille. In his aspirations after a life of 
" beneficence and virtue " one feels the ring of the new 
ideas which the great upheaval of 1789 was stirring in 
the young and ardent souls of the time. How Josiah 
Wedgwood replied to his son's eager pleadings we do 
not know. We may be sure that the wise father did 
not laugh at his young enthusiasm, though he may 
have been amused at the didactic solemnity with which 
the lad expounds his ideal of life. Nor do we know 
whether he and Leslie were allowed to set up house 
apart from the family at Etruria Hall. We might 
guess that Tom's friend and tutor was treated with 
Josiah Wedgwood's usual liberality, and received cor- 
dially as one of the family. Leslie lets us know, in his 
magnificent language, that this was the case. 


John Leslie to 'Tom Wedgwood 


April 29, 1790. 


How shall I make a proper return ? I hope the magnitude 
of the offer will be an additional spur to my exertions. There 
is a circumstance, my dear friend, which gives me peculiar 
pleasure. From the generosity of your nature I am convinced 
that I shall be upon an easy footing. I am a moderate lover of 
liberty, but I am every day more riveted in a settled aversion to 
the fawning arts of the sycophant, and to be submitted to the 
caprices and tyranny of an Aristocrate [sic"] would to me be 
the more dreadful of punishments. At the same time my dear 
Sir, I hope this disposition does not arise from any overweaned 
conceit of myself, but springs from the consciousness of the 
unalienable rights and native dignity of man. . . . 

I am rilled with a mixture of wonder and gratitude. . . . 
United with a gentleman who possesses all the warmth of dis- 
position and the acuteness of discernment of our friend T. M. 
Randolph, but who possesses, besides, a virtue the most essential 
to the dignity and success of life, steadiness of conduct and 
resolution of character, whose passions are subordinate to his 
reason, and who has imbibed more of the spirit of the Stoic than 
the Epicurean philosophy and not yet nineteen ! I upbraid 
myself that I am five years older. This is the age of bliss, the 
head not hardened by jarring interests is susceptible of every 
delicate impression, and the soul springs unbounded. . . . What 
character is so benevolent and so generous as that of a young 
man who has just left college. You feel the justness of the 



I am, my dear Sir, 

Yours affect ly ., 



Leslie remained at Etruria about two years, from 
June 1790. His stay there was doubtless a great help 
to Tom Wedgwood in his scientific work. One may 
doubt whether his influence was good in other ways. 
He pours out his admiration for his pupil in language 
which is too exuberant to sound sincere, and whether 
sincere or not, it was hardly wholesome reading for a 
lad of nineteen. 

<c Our dispositions, you say, are congenial. I esteem this 
the highest compliment I could receive." 

"I derived great advantage from it [Edinburgh University], 
but what I am confident is the greatest of all, I commenced at 
Edinburgh an acquaintance with yourself." 

"To reside with a young man whose heart is of the same 
mould, and whose mind is so benevolent, so generous and so 
enlarged, is altogether delightful." 

" Your time is too precious to spend much of it with me 
but to enjoy your company in your intervals of leisure is the 
most flattering prospect." 

These are specimens of Leslie's outpourings ; but 
his career as a man of science showed him to be a man 
of more real capacity than one would have inferred 
from the absurd pomposity of his letters. 



THE three years which followed Tom Wedgwood's 
stay at Edinburgh University, 178991, were spent 
mainly at Etruria, and they may be said to have been 
the only working years of his short life, for this was 
the only time during which health allowed him to set 
himself to any definite occupation. Early in 1790 he 
became a partner in his father's business, and began 
taking part in the management of the pottery. During 
these years he was also working at physical science. The 
laboratory and the pottery processes at Etruria gave him 
special facilities for experiments bearing on the relations 
between heat and light, and he gave much time to a 
course of experiments of this kind. The results of his 
work were embodied in two papers which were read 
before the Royal Society. The first of these, read on 
December 22, 1791 {'Transactions for 1792, pp. 28-47), 
is entitled " Experiments and Observations on the 
production of Light from different bodies by heat and 
attrition," by Mr. Thomas Wedgwood, communicated 
by Sir Joseph Banks, Bart., F.R.S. The second paper 
is described as a continuation of the first. This 
special field of investigation was apparently a new one. 
He corresponded with Priestley on the subject, and we 


find the great chemist telling him : " I do not know 
that any experiments have been made on the curious 
and important subjects that you mention," and again, 
" they (your experiments) will throw some new light 
on a very important subject, about which we as yet 
know very little."* 

In his first paper, after a brief summary of the 
results of previous observations, beginning with the 
discovery of the stone which went by the name of 
" Bolognese Phosphorus," he describes how a great 
variety of substances, some fifty or more, can be 
rendered luminous by the method of reducing the 
substance to powder and sprinkling it on a warm^plate 
of iron, and then gives an account of the processes 
whereby he has been able to obtain phosphoric effect by 

In his second paper he gives the particulars of 
various experiments showing the results of making 
different substances red hot. In the first of these (to 
take an instance) he fixes two equal cylinders of silver, 
half an inch long and a quarter of an inch in diameter, 
with polished surfaces, in a tube of earthenware. One 
cylinder is painted over, one not so. Both are put 
into a red hot crucible surrounded by burning coals, 
and he observes that the blackened silver shines much 
before that with the non-blackened surface. 

A particular interest attaches to one of these experi- 
ments (the seventh), as it was the first announcement, 
apparently, of a law at that time unknown. He 
" gilded a piece of earthenware in lines running across " 

* Quoted by Miss Meteyard ("Group of Englishmen," p. 53) 
from letters described as Finch MSS. 


and gradually made it red hot ; and he " could not, 
after many trials, perceive that either the gold or the 
earthenware began to shine first." Whereon he adds : 
"As it appears from this experiment that gold and 
earthenware begin to shine at the same temperature, 
and as no two bodies can well be more different, in all 
their sensible properties, may it not be inferred, that 
almost all bodies begin to shine at the same tempera- 
ture ? " The inference, it will be seen, is put in an 
interrogative form ; but though this experiment would 
not in itself establish the suggested law, it is the fact 
that all bodies " begin to shine at the same tempera- 
ture," or, as it sometimes is expressed, have the same 
point of incandescence. 

I have been unable to ascertain to whom the first 
discovery of this law has usually been attributed, but I 
have not at present found any reference to it, other 
than that in Tom Wedgwood's paper, earlier than the 
year 1847. (See Appendix, p. 241.) 

While working at the long series of experiments 
described in the two papers, Wedgwood was corre- 
sponding on the subject with Priestley, and with 
another chemist of note, James Keir, of West 

* James Keir was a man of mark, and had a singular career. He 
had been a medical student at Edinburgh, where he was a great 
friend of Erasmus Darwin, and afterwards, for about nine years, 
an officer in the army. His proclivities to science ultimately led 
him to settle at West Bromwich and devote himself to chemistry and 
geology. Then he became a glass manufacturer, and was concerned 
in other manufacturing works, being at one time associated with 
Boulton and Watt. He, like so many of Tom Wedgwood's friends, 
was a sympathiser with the French Revolution, and became con- 
spicuous in that character by taking the chair at the meeting at 
Birmingham on July 14, 1791 (second anniversary of the fall of the 



direction of photography is wholly uncertain. At 
present there seems to be no evidence definitely show- 
ing that he did ; but this point will be touched on in 
the chapter dealing with his photographic work. 

Other problems connected with light and heat 
occupied him for a long time in these years. But 
by the year 1792 the ill health from which he had 
suffered more or less from childhood had become so 
constant as to make him unfit for any serious or Con- 
tinous work, and from that time onwards he seems to 
have done nothing in physical science save in a frag- 
mentary and occasional way. 

A memorandum in his writing, preserved among his 
letters, records this arrest of what promised to be a 
fruitful course of scientific work. It is on a half-sheet 
of letter paper, and bears marks of wafers, by which it 
seems to have been closed up as if for special preserva- 
tion, with the endorsement " Account of proposed 
experiments in vacuo." It runs as follows : 

<c I spent half a year in endeavouring to suspend a ther- 
mometer in vacuo. Olive oil seemed to promise better than 
mercury. I thought that the thermometer might be raised to a 
great height by exposing it with a blackened bulb to the rays of 
the sun, suspended by a very fine wire or hair, as I concluded 
that a true vacuum would not conduct the heat away from the 
bulb, all it would lose would be by the wire or hair. I proposed 
to converge the rays of the moon on it also to try if their heat 
could be thus appreciated. I proposed likewise to have sails 
upon a delicate axis to turn round by the impulse of light. But 
not succeeding in my trials at a vacuum, and finding my health 
impaired, I resolved to give up experimenting. 

" April, 1792.* THOS. WEDGWOOD." 

* This date is so placed (the word " experimenting " being at the 


His object, I should imagine, in writing this, was to 
keep some record of ideas which he might pursue at a 
future time if his health should mend, or which might 
be useful as suggestions to future experimenters. The 
first sentence testifies to his perseverance as well as his 
enthusiasm. To spend six months in struggling with 
a single mechanical problem shows something of the 
" infinite capacity for taking pains," in which we have 
been told that genius mainly consists. But the interest 
of the record is in the date, which shows that at least 
as early as April 1792 his health had become too bad 
to allow of his going on with any continuous work. 
He was then some weeks short of twenty-one years 
old. There is a pathos in the thought of so eager a 
student being forced, when still only at the outset of 
his work, to abandon the hope of doing anything 

His idea of getting sails upon a delicate axis to turn 
round by the action of light may perhaps remind a 
modern reader of the curious radiometer of Sir William 
Crookes, in which something like this appears to be 
going on. But of course Wedgwood could have had 
no real prevision of what happens in the radiometer. 
Reasoning on Newton's emission theory of light, he 
thought that if the opposing pressure of the air could 
be got rid of, the shock of the little particles of light 
knocking on the sails would make them turn round. 
In the radiometer, as I understand, the turning of the 
little vanes has to do with light only in the sense that 

end of a line) that it may signify either the date on which the paper 
was written, or the date when he " resolved to give up experiment- 


'(0 x 

the heat accompanying it makes inequalities of tem- 
perature in the gas surrounding the instrument, whence 
come differences of pressure causing the motion. Tom 
Wedgwood, naturally, had no glimmering of these 
mysteries of molecular action, which were to be ex- 
pounded nearly a century later by Clerk Maxwell and 
other physicists.* 

The detection and measurement of the heat sent to 
the earth by the moon was another problem which had 
to wait long for a solution. Lord Rosse attempted it 
some forty years ago, but it has only recently, I believe, 
been settled by means of Mr. Boys's " micro-radio- 
meter," a wonderful instrument, which measures very 
minute changes of temperature by means of a test 
founded on the electrical action of one metal on 

Tom Wedgwood's " resolve to give up experiment- 
ing " on account of impaired health brings us to what 
was the dominant fact of his life. He never had any 
health. In his early years he was weakly ; we hear of 
headaches troubling him as a boy, and in his student 
days at Edinburgh. As years went on it became clear 
that he had a grave constitutional disease, which, as we 
shall see, made the last ten years of his life utterly 
miserable. What the ailment was the best medical 
skill of the time failed to discover. The doctors 
seem to have generally agreed that it had to do with 
the digestive system. Some called it a paralysis or 
semi-paralysis of the colon. One considered it to be 

* Clerk Maxwell in Phil. Tr. of 1879 on Stresses in rarefied 
gases, &c. " Enc. Brit." Art. " Pneumatics," p. 249. 


the sequel of an attack of dysentery which he had when 
a student at Edinburgh. Others would only call it 
" hypochondria." Whatever the physical cause was, a 
main feature of the disease was a continual recurrence 
of fits of depression, sometimes lasting for weeks 
together. His mental misery at these times, especially 
towards the close of his life, made his condition hardly 
distinguishable from one of insanity. The impression, 
however, left by the letters is that the disease was not 
primarily mental. There is not the slightest trace in 
them of anything approaching a delusion, and in letters 
written in moments of the deepest despondency we find 
him discussing practical matters in the manner of a 
man who is in complete possession of his faculties. 
There were intervals when he was well capable of 
bodily and mental labour, but as time went on the 
periods of depression became longer and more frequent, 
making his life well-nigh unbearable. Thus it came 
about that, broadly speaking, his whole adult life, from 
about 1792 on to the end in 1805, was devoted to a 
single object, the fighting this terrible and mysterious 
enemy. He went the round of the most notable 
physicians of the day, Clive, Baillie, Erasmus Darwin, 
Beddoes, and many more. He tried all manner of 
cures, strange and fantastic regimes, new modes of life. 
" Change of scene " was continually recommended as a 
remedy ; hence he was perpetually travelling, in 
England and abroad, and continually visiting relatives 
and friends. It was not till nearly the end of his life 
that he had a house of his own, and that was only 
nominally a home. Its acquisition hardly arrested his 
wandering course of life. 


To revert to the year 1792 it was then that he was 
for the first time out of England, making a flying visit 
to Paris in order to be present at the great " Federa- 
tion " fte held on July 14, on the Champ-de-Mars, to 
celebrate the third anniversary of the fall of the 
Bastille. Like most of his friends and belongings he 
was ardently in sympathy with the revolutionary move- 
ment in its early stages. The following letter gives 
some of the impressions made by this first sight of a 
foreign country. At this moment, it will be remem- 
bered, the fall of the French monarchy was imminent. 
Another month was to see the attack on the Tuileries 
and the massacre of the Swiss Guard (August 10, 
1792). Six months later Louis had been guillotined 
and France and England were at war. 

Tom Wedgwood to his Father 


July 7, 1792. 

We have had a most delightful journey from London to 
this place. We spent near three days at Brighton, waiting for 
a good packet, and the wind being favourable got to Dieppe 
in nine hours. We were about 25 passengers, all groaning 
under sickness. . . . Mr. Biddulph made a third in a cabriolet 
with us from Dieppe to Paris. . . . The last 50 or 60 miles 
to Paris is all vineyard and a charming country. We stopped 
near a day at Rouen with Mr. Wild ; nine-tenths of the people 
are Aristocrats ; nearly three dozen churches are turning into 
shops and dwellings by a decree of the N. Assembly, and yet 
seventeen Parish Churches are left. I lodge here in the same 
house with young Watt he is a furious democrat detests the 
King and Fayette. The latter seems to be pretty generally 
suspected of treachery Condorcet is equally so. It is entirely 


impossible for me to give you any good account of French 
politics ; they are mutable as the wind. Watt says that a new 
revolution must inevitably take place, and that it will in all 
probability be fatal to the King, Fayette, and some hundred 
others. The I4th of this month will probably be eventful. 
He means to join the French Army in case of any civil rupture. 
I have this morning been to some of the principal buildings of 
Paris with him as a guide. The Thuilleries are shut up by 
the King's order, though they are national property. I am 
this moment risen from a dinner at Bouvilliers (which John 
knows) where everything is given in a style far superior to 
what they do in London, and very much cheaper. . . . The 
streets of Paris stink more than the dirtiest hole in London, 
and you cannot walk even in this dry time, without repeated 
splashes. I have been most completely lost many times already, 
and find the little French I know of the greatest use. Poor 
John Turner * has never yet given utterance to a single word. 
I shall endeavour to get some intelligence about the safety 
with which one may be a spectator at the Federation. I do 
not intend to run any risk in the matter, though every one 
agrees that the sight will be grand beyond conception. I shall 
write again before I leave Paris. . . . The English here are 
all Aristocrats, and I do not intend to dine again at the Table 
d'Hote, as politics are discussed with such freedom that it is 
difficult to avoid disagreeable disputes. . . . 

Believe me, Yours affectionately, 


Best love to all. 

P.S. You cannot write to me in Paris. 

* Who he was does not appear ; perhaps an employe from Etruria, 
going over to France on a business errand. 

t This and the letter next mentioned are the only letters of his 
among the family papers between the years 1791 and 1795. 



The P.S. probably means that he is hurrying 
home after the fete. His making the journey for 
such a short stay is a sign of his revolutionary ardour. 
One can well imagine him making, like Wordsworth 
at the same time, a pilgrimage to the site of the 
Bastille, and piously bringing away a bit of stone from 
the fallen fortress. 

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, 
But to be young was very heaven ! 

It was only for about two years that Tom Wedg- 
wood was a partner in the Etruria works. Whether he 
really worked at the business it is impossible to say 
probably he did very little, considering his poor health 
and his laboratory work. A letter of April 1792 gives 
a glimpse of him as attending to sundry matters relat- 
ing to the pottery, and sending a string of memoranda 
thereon to his father and brother in London. " Our 
common jasper is not yet at all as it should be ; it is 
too soft and all the things made of it drop in firing. 
. . . This is a great disappointment." Then come 
questions as to purchases of adjacent land, and as to 
what can be done with a tipsy coachman or postilion. 
Twice in a fortnight " Dan has got very drunk at Mr. 
Fletchers, and had like to have fallen off his horses. 
He alarmed my sisters by his bad driving and was very 
saucy to George this morning." 

But by April in the next year, 1793, we ^ ave discus- 
sions as to the terms on which he and John Wedgwood 
are to retire from the partnership, and in June they 
ceased to be members of the firm. Tom had now 


some thoughts, apparently, of settling in America. To 
the young enthusiasts of that revolutionary time the 
lately born republic seemed, as we know, a blessed land 
of promise, a land where men might live in " freedom 
and virtue," untrammelled by the corruptions and 
superstitions of the old world. Leslie, who had spent 
a year or two in the States, argues with Tom against 
this project. 

"I am afraid you will hardly find a situation in America 
where you could settle comfortably. The society is neither 
sufficiently enlightened for you, nor sufficiently refined. That 
country, seen at a distance, will present its fairest aspect ; and, 
though the slavish disposition of the people of Britain is 
mortifying to a generous man, we may reasonably hope that 
the impulse lately given to men's minds will soon triumph 
over every obstacle, and finally produce a general renovation of 

Wedgwood, in turning his thoughts to America, 
probably had in his mind the notable example of 
Priestley, who, shrinking from the idea of returning to 
Birmingham after the destruction of his home in the 
riots of 1791, was on the point of migrating to Penn- 
sylvania. But Leslie's advice was sensible, whatever 
we may think of his reasons. Priestley's own experi- 
ence a year or two later was a good commentary on the 
hint that America was not altogether an ideal abode 
for the "friends of liberty." The unorthodox 
theologian and savant did not find it at all a peaceful 

At some time in the year 1793 Tom Wedgwood 

* See Appendix, p. 253. 


made the acquaintance of William Godwin,* then a 
prominent figure among the " friends of liberty." 
His " Enquiry concerning Political Justice " had 
appeared early in that year, and it had made him 
known as the philosophical representative of English 
Radicalism. Wedgwood, a youth of twenty-two, still 
in the stage of vehement revolt against things as they 
were, readily fell into the attitude of a reverent dis- 
ciple, and we may be sure that to the impecunious 
and much-borrowing philosopher, the devoted allegi- 
ance of a young man belonging to a circle in which 
there was no lack of money, and himself on the way 
to being rich, would be more than welcome. The 
earliest of the extant letters addressed to Godwin 
(November 9, 1795) * s on tne subject of a proffered 
gift. It would seem that Wedgwood had proposed to 
send him a copying machine, and that Godwin had de- 
clined the gift, explaining at the same time his " senti- 
ments on the giving and taking of presents."! This 
evoked from Wedgwood a lengthy reply, in which he 
treats the matter from the high ethical standpoint. 

* William Godwin, born at Wisbech in 1756, began life as a 
Presbyterian minister, but at about thirty became a "complete 
unbeliever"; published " Political Justice " in 1793, and "Caleb 
Williams" in 1794; married Mary Wollstonecraft (father by her 
of Shelley's second wife) ; and afterwards Mrs. Clements or Claire- 
mont, mother of the "Claire" who was mother of Byron's 
" Allegra " ; got the sinecure post of yeoman-usher of the Exchequer 
in 1833, and died in l8 3^. 

t One would like to know what these "sentiments" were. 
Godwin's delicacy in the matter of gifts was of a singular kind. In 
after years he did not mind begging of Shelley, but stipulated that 
his son-in-law's drafts should be made out without his own name 
appearing on them. 


Tom Wedgwood to Godwin 

'November 9, 1795. 

[After an elaborate preamble] ^ Prostituted as we all are to 
the customs and opinions of Society, the attempt to build all 
our actions on motives of vestal purity is obviously impractic- 
able. I durst not give, nor could another accept, an invitation 
to my table. . . . But what would result from the total suspen- 
sion of good offices ? A disposition of mind unalloyed by 
selfishness ? No, our selfishness would increase with our 
wants and our principles would become every day weaker and 
weaker from not being brought into action. ... I will now 
y explain to you the precise motives of the action which gave 
birth to this speculation." [This he does at great length, be- 
ginning with the " pleasure that curious mechanical inventions 
afford." Copying machines had just lately been invented by 
James Watt. Then he proceeds :] 

" I was glad when it occurred to me that by thus becoming 
useful to your pursuits and by cautiously avoiding at the same 
time any interruption of them from unseasonable visits, it was 
not improbable you might connect some agreeable associations 
with my person, and conceive some interest in my fellowship. 
. . . The above is a perfectly ingenuous and accurate review 
of the ideas that determined and grew out of an action of my 
life that I can never wish to retract. There may be a speck 
of selfishness on the face of it, but it is sound and untainted at 
heart. . . . May I solicit from you an explication as unreserved 
of the feelings that accompanied your passive situation ? If more 
agreeable to you, defer it till our next meeting. I confess that 
on some accounts I prefer writing to conversation. But this 
preference is owing entirely to my want of a frank and clear 
expression of my thoughts which exercise alone can supply. 


Wedgwood's early letters are written, as this speci- 
men shows, in an elaborately formal dialect, which we 


may set down in part to the fashion of the time. Later 
they became less stiff. In this instance, doubtless, the 
reverential attitude of the disciple to the master is 
accountable for the solemnity with which he discusses 
Godwin's pragmatical refusal of a small present. Like 
many older and wiser people, he was completely taken 
in by the audacious vigour with which Godwin ex- 
pounded an utterly preposterous theory of human life. 
'JMr. Kegan Paul tells us that the two men did not 
really get on very well together ; they were " antipa- 
thetic when they met, and suited each other only at a 
distance." Wedgwood, while helping his friend with 
liberal loans, "preferred that they should not meet, 
and that their discussions should be conducted on 

It is rather entertaining, when one remembers the 
philosopher's many borrowings, euphemistically so 
called, to find that he was annoyed at his disciple 
being so indelicate as to prepay the postage of his 
letters. Mrs. Shelley tells us that at one time Tom 
Wedgwood and her father " contemplated making a 
common household together." Such a common 
household would not have lasted many days without an 

Wedgwood's papers include one or two bits of what 
appear to be compositions sent to Godwin for correc- 
tion and comment. The criticisms in Godwin's hand 
are not of a kind to suggest that the master's help was 
of much value to the pupil. They are minute verbal 
corrections, in the manner rather of the schoolmaster 

* Kegan Paul's "Life of Godwin," i. 311. 


than of the philosopher. Wedgwood, for instance, 
writes : " This feeling, from the cradle to the death 
bed, never once deserts us." Godwin comments : 
" ' Once/ pleonastic." Wedgwood describes a man as 
being in a " live" mood. Godwin says, "for 'live* 
read ' vigilant,' the other is scarcely English." Wedg- 
wood's English is lax (e.g., the odd use of the word 
" prostituted " in the above letter), but Godwin's cor- 
rections are of the kind which would take the life out 
of any style. 




SOON after the rearrangement of the Wedgwood part- 
nership in 1793, when Tom Wedgwood and his eldest 
brother John retired from the firm, the latter took up 
his abode at Cote House, a country place not far from 
Bristol, and there Tom was a frequent visitor. That, 
apparently, led to his becoming acquainted with Dr. 
Beddoes, the noted physician, who had lately come to 
settle in Bristol. The two men became intimate. 
Their views of things were in general accord, as would 
be sufficiently shown by the fact that it was Beddoes' 
sympathy with the French Revolution which had in 
some way been the cause of his having to give up the 
post of reader in chemistry at Oxford.* Both men 
shared the passion for reforming and improving the 
world, which moved so many of the younger men of 
the time. Beddoes was a singularly interesting man. 
His letters give the impression of a mind overflowing 
with new ideas, a nature full of energy and initiative, 

* Beddoes was born in 1760 at Shifnal in Shropshire, and died in 
London, where he had a large practice in his later years, in 1808. 
He was father of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, the half-mad poet, author 
of " Death's Jest Book." See the notices of both in the " Diet. 
Nat. Biog." 



sanguine, optimistic, rebelling against antiquated 
routine, keen on striking out new paths. One of the 
things he preached was the importance of " preventive " 
medicine. He must have been one of the earliest 
workers in that field, and one of his schemes was a plan 
for setting a staff of young doctors to go about Bristol 
lecturing on the prevention of disease. " By this plan," 
he tells Wedgwood, " I think 550 a year would con- 
fer the full benefit of preventive and to a great extent 
of curative medicine upon all Bristol and the counties 
within attending distance." " This preventive medi- 
cine," he says, in another letter, " is much the most 
important of the two divisions." At another time we 
find him advocating a new system of " rational toys," 
and at another a new method of teaching geometry. 
But his chief enterprise was the " Pneumatic Institute," 
a scheme which aimed at giving a full trial to the 
method of treating consumption, cancer, and other 
diseases by the use of "factitious airs" i.e., by the 
inhalation of certain gases, or of chemically modified 
atmospheric air. The institute was to be a small 
hospital for the reception of patients thus to be treated. 
Various eminent men, such as Dr. Erasmus Darwin, 
Keir the chemist, Professor Black, James Watt the 
great engineer, and some leading physicians, supported 
the scheme. Watt invented apparatus for making and 
administering the gases. (Jhe Wedgwoods, father and 
sons, gave substantial contributions. Tom Wedgwood 
was also active in helping Beddoes to collect the need- 
ful funds ; and when there seemed to be a difficulty in 
getting together what was wanted, he gave an addi- 
tional thousand pounds in order that the plan might 


be at once started.^ His feeling about it is shown by 
a few words he puts on a letter of Beddoes (dated 
August 12, 1794), which he sends on to his brother 
Josiah. " I think I shall contribute" (this was at the 
first inception of the scheme), " as the attempt must be 
successful in part if it only goes to show that c airs * 
are not efficacious in medicine. "j 

The Institute was duly opened in 1798, the patients 
being taken into a house in Dowry Square, on the 
Clifton side of Bristol, but it did not, alas ! answer the 
sanguine hopes of Beddoes. Consumption, cancers, 
and internal ulcers refused to yield to the new treat- 
ment. The experiment had only the negative success 
guessed at in Tom Wedgwood's wise and suggestive 
words. It showed that " airs are not efficacious in 
medicine." After two or three years the Institute was 
given up, and in 1801 Beddoes left Bristol for London. 
During these years Tom Wedgwood was one of 
Beddoes' patients, stopping at Clifton at intervals to be 
under his care. The " airs," however, did him no 
good, nor had he better success with other strange 
sorts of treatment which he tried, apparently, under 
Beddoes' advice. One was the "warm-room plan.'' 
His brother Josiah (December 1799) describes him as 
living in a completely closed room, with a stove, 
double windows, and double doors, in a temperature 
kept up to 70 degrees, without once going out of the 
room for seventy-two hours. He tells us also of con- 
sumptive patients living in cow-houses, " three cows in 

* In the notice of Josiah Wedgwood (the father) in the " Diet. 
Nat. Biog.," it is implied that he gave this large contribution, but it 
seems to have been Tom Wedgwood's. 


each of the cow-houses," warmed by stoves. Whether 
Tom Wedgwood lived with the cows does not appear. 
" For mere temperature," says Beddoes in his beautiful 
optimistic way," " living with cows is the most 
delicious thing imaginable ; perhaps the fumes would 
give a salutary stimulus to the surface of the lungs, 
which might communicate itself to the whole system. 
I find this much better than living with a butcher." 
(Beddoes to T. W. November 12, 1799.) The last 
words seem to show that Beddoes had other patients 
living with butchers, presumably on the theory that the 
meaty atmosphere would do them good. In another 
letter (Beddoes to Tom Wedgwood, August 3, 1792) 
he says : " I have had strict inquiry made concerning 
the state of health among the Bristol butchers. The 
information is curious and satisfactory, and the result 
will be of great use to my essay on consumption." We 
come across this strange cow-cure in the " Life and 
Letters of Maria Edgeworth," whose sister Anna 
Beddoes married. " One of his hobbies," it is there 
asserted, " was to introduce cows into invalids' bed- 
rooms, that they might inhale the breath of the 
animals, a prescription which naturally gave umbrage 
to the Clifton lodging-house keepers." De Quincey, 
many years afterwards, described Tom Wedgwood as 
having at one time kept a butcher's shop. This myth 
may perhaps have arisen from some twisted account of 
the theory held, and apparently practised, by his 

* The story is in De Quincey's gossiping account of Coleridge in 
the " Autobiographic Sketches," first published in Taifs Magazine, 
and afterwards republished (1854) among the "Selections Grave and 


It was through Beddoes' " Pneumatic Institution " 
that the world first heard of the afterwards famous 
chemist, Humphrey Davy, of whom we shall have 
more to say as collaborating with Tom Wedgwood in 
his photographic work. The Wedgwoods had met 
him at Penzance, his native place, where he was an 
apothecary's apprentice, when staying there in the 
winter of 1797-8 for the sake of the warm climate. 
Beddoes, hearing that the youth knew something of 
chemistry, engaged him as assistant in the laboratory 
at Dowry Square. There, doubtless, he and Tom 
Wedgwood became more closely acquainted. One of 
the excitements of the time was Davy's discovery of 
the so-called " laughing gas." He had found a way of 
making nitrous oxide safely respirable, and was trying 
its effects on troops of friends who came to the labora- 
tory to see and feel the new wonder. Southey called 
it " the wonder-working gas of delight." Here is Tom 
Wedgwood's written report of his sensations : 

I called on Mr. Davy at the Medical Institution on July 23. 
... I had six quarts of the oxide given me in a bag undiluted, 
and as soon as I had breathed three or four respirations, I felt 
myself affected, and my respiration hurried, which effect in- 
creased rapidly until I became as it were entranced, when I 

Gay." " As a desperate attempt to rouse and irritate the decaying 
sensibility of his system, I have been assured, by a surviving friend, that 
Mr. Wedgwood at one time opened a butcher's shop, conceiving that 
the affronts and disputes to which such a situation would expose him 
might act beneficially upon his increasing torpor." "Which, how- 
ever" (he adds in a note to the reprint of 1854), "his brother Josiah 
denied as a pure fable." 

De Quincey's account of Tom Wedgwood, in the passage of which 
this is a part, has all his accustomed charm of manner, but is too 
full of inaccuracies and confusions to be worth quoting. 


threw the bag from me and kept breathing on furiously with 
an open mouth, and holding my nose with my left hand, 
having no power to take it away, though aware of the 
ridiculousness of my situation. . . . Before I breathed the air 
I felt a good deal fatigued from a very long ride I had had the 
day before ; but after breathing, I lost all sense of fatigue.* 

After the Institute was given up and Beddoes went 
to London, Tom Wedgwood appears to have seen 
little of him. In letters of the year 1803 we find him 
collecting funds for some project the nature of which 
is not mentioned, to which Tom gives ,100 and his 
brother Josiah 50.) 

* Printed in the collected works of Davy with reports of other 
like experiences. 

Of Gunville, Dorset, and Maer Hall, Staffordshire 


i 795 _ I79 6 

IN the last few pages I have departed from chrono- 
logical sequence in order to give an account of Tom 
Wedgwood's relations with Beddoes. I will now take 
up the thread of his life from the time when the death 
of old Josiah Wedgwood of Etruria led to a dispersion 
of the family circle. 

That death happened in January 1795. The fortune 
the great potter left to be divided among his children 
was large, and thus at the age of twenty-three Tom 
became a fairly rich man. His broken health forbade 
him to think of taking up any regular pursuit, and his 
frequent fits of dejection and restlessness drove him to 
seek relief in a wandering life. Of marriage he cannot 
have thought, it was too plainly impossible ; and 
neither his extant letters nor family tradition tell us 
of his caring for any woman outside the circle of 
his relations. But he had a warmly affectionate 
nature ; he clung closely to his family, and could not 
endure to be for long away from his brothers and 
sisters and their children. Among them he may 
be said to have lived, though in an intermittent way. 
And here it may be convenient to say what were 


his family surroundings in this year 1795 and there- 

Josiah Wedgwood of Etruria left behind him a 
widow and six children : three sons, John, Josiah, and 
Thomas, and three daughters, Susannah, Catharine, 
and Sarah. John, the eldest son, who had given up his 
partnership in the pottery in 1793, had become a 
London banker, and was living in Devonshire Place, 
Marylebone. A year or two later he took up his 
abode at Cote House, a country place about two miles 
out of Bristol. Josiah, the next brother, remained for 
a time at Etruria, carrying on the works in conjunction 
with his cousin, Thomas Byerley, who for many years 
was the working head of the business. He not long 
afterwards sought an abode in the south of England, 
fixing himself first at Stoke d'Abernon, near Cobham, 
in Surrey, and ultimately (17991800) at Gunville 
House, near Blandford, in Dorsetshire. Josiah had 
married, in 1792, Elizabeth Allen, the eldest of many 
daughters of John Bartlett Allen of Cresselly, a Pem- 
brokeshire squire, and John, about a year later, had 
married Jane Allen, another of the sisters. Both 
brothers had children. Susannah Wedgwood, Tom's 
eldest sister, married, a few months after her father's 
death, Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury, son of Dr. 
Erasmus the poet. One of her many children was 
Charles Darwin, author of the " Origin of Species " 
(born 1 809). The two younger sisters, Catharine and 
Sarah Wedgwood (always spoken of as Kitty and 
Sally), aged twenty and eighteen, lived with their 
mother for a few years in Staffordshire, and afterwards 
moved with her into Dorsetshire to be near Josiah's 


family. The person who counted for most in Tom 
Wedgwood's life was his brother Josiah. An intense 
affection united these two men. It was to Josiah that 
Tom turned in all his troubles. Intellectually, the 
two were not much alike. Josiah was a man of solid 
character, wide-minded and high-minded ; an upright, 
calmly judging person, a man whom every one 
trusted, and on whom every one near him leant. He 
had intellectual tastes, but these were quite secondary 
to the practical interests of life, and warm affections, 
but no man could have been more inexpressive. His 
letters are the ne plus ultra of dryness. As he was his 
poor sick brother's mainstay, so he was a rock of sup- 
port at all times of doubt and difficulty to the whole 
of his family, including his wife's relations. The 
strong family belief in his excellent judgment was well 
shown at a critical moment in the life of his nephew, 
Charles Darwin. The turning-point in Darwin's 
career was his going as naturalist on the voyage of the 
Beagle. When the offer was made to him he was 
then twenty-one his father strongly objected to his 
accepting it, and he was on the point of sending a 
refusal ; but his " Uncle Jos " backed him up in his 
desire to go, and wrote to Dr. Darwin, discussing 
seriatim the latter's objections. His reasonings con- 
vinced the father, and the son became a naturalist, 
instead of, as he had intended, a clergyman. Darwin, 
in the brief autobiography which he wrote (in 1876) 
for his wife and children, describes his uncle thus : 

I greatly revered him ; he was siient and reserved so as to 
be rather an awful man ; but he sometimes talked openly with 


me. He was the very type of an upright man, with the clearest 
judgment. I do not believe that any power on earth could 
have made him swerve an inch from what he considered the 
right course. I used to apply to him in my mind the well- 
known ode of Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the 
words, " nee vultus tyranni," &c., come in.* 

Josiah had had the happiness to marry a delightful 
woman. His " Bessy" was the best beloved of the 
whole family circle, and her letters give the reflection 
of an ideally beautiful character. The family tradition 
tells the same story with one voice, and we can well 
believe it when we look at the " radiantly cheerful 
countenance " that beams upon us out of one of the 
loveliest of Romney's portraits, t 

Cote House, the abode of John Wedgwood, was 
Tom's most frequent resort after that of his brother 
Josiah. There, too, he had always an affectionate wel- 
come from another charming sister-in-law. Louisa 
Jane Wedgwood (always called " Jenny " in the family) 
was the beauty of the Wedgwood-Allen circle, and the 
family letters give ample proof that she must have been 
a singularly attractive woman. The Robert Darwins 
of Shrewsbury seem to have seen but little of Tom. 

* " Life of C. Darwin," by F. Darwin, I. 44. (The ode is that 
beginning " Justum et tenacem propositi virum.") The interesting 
letter of Josiah's about the Beagle business is given on p. 198 of the 
same volume. 

t Now belonging to her grand-daughter, Miss Wedgwood, of 
Leith Hill Place. " She has her mother's radiantly cheerful counten- 
ance," are the words used by Maria Edgeworth, a life-long friend 
of the family, in describing Mrs. Charles Darwin, Mrs. Josiah's 
youngest daughter, then in her thirty-third year. (Letter of Decem- 
ber 26, 1840, to Fanny Butler.) 

From Portrait by Romney 


Of his two unmarried sisters, both of whom were culti- 
vated and intelligent women, Sally was the one with 
whom he had most in common intellectually. During 
his wanderings in search of health it is to her that he 
most often sends affectionate messages.^ 

Through his two sisters-in-law he became intimate 
with the family at Cresselly. Fanny Allen, f the 
youngest, gayest, and most keen witted of the group 
of sisters, became, during the last few years of his life, 
one of his best friends. 

Catherine Allen, another of the Cresselly sisters, 
married Mr. Mackintosh (afterwards Sir James) in 
1798. They naturally became friends of Tom Wedg- 
wood, and the two men were brought the closer 
together by their common interest in metaphysical 

Such was the family entourage of Tom Wedgwood 
when he ceased to live at Etruria after his father's 
death. What plan of life, if any, he formed at that 
time, there is nothing to show. Metaphysical study 
and speculation was evidently, as always, one of his 
chief interests.^ Physical investigations he had put 

* Sarah Wedgwood lived to the age of eighty and died in 1856. 
She spent her last years at Down, in Kent, living near her nephew 
and niece, Charles and Emma Darwin. 

t Fanny Allen lived to be ninety-three, dying in 1875, and was 
the last link between Tom Wedgwood's generation and that of his 
great-nephews and nieces. They remember her as a most enter- 
taining old lady, with a sharp tongue and caustic wit ; a fiercely 
bigoted whig of the old school, full of Holland House traditions, 
including the worship of Napoleon. Mackintosh and Sydney Smith 
were among her particular friends. When the news of Waterloo 
came, she wrote of it as " a splendid victory, but in a terribly bad 
cause." (As to Jessie Allen, Mme. Sismondi, see p. 123.) 

I See chap. xiv. 


aside, at least for a time. Such active work as his 
letters disclose always took the form of helping for- 
ward some scheme aiming at the improvement of the 
world. v Anything of the kind we now call a social or 
philanthropic " movement," any plan for teaching 
mankind to mend its ways, if it ran on what he 
thought sound philosophical or liberal lines, found in 
i him a zealous supporter. To such plans he would 
give work as well as money. To spread, for instance, 
a knowledge of inoculation as a preventive of small- 
pox was one of the things with which he busied him- 
self. He corresponded with people in various parts of 
England who were engaged in the same effort, and 
used his local influence in the cause. We find him 
getting a thousand copies printed of an " address to 
parents" on the subject, for distribution among the 
people of the Potteries. This was in 1795, after 
which time I find no more letters on the subject. 
Jenner was just then completing the investigations 
which led to vaccination taking the place of inocula- 

^Another correspondent is a worthy Quaker book- 
seller, Mr. Samuel Phillips, whom he has commissioned 
to send him a supply of books fit for popular reading. 
Mr. Phillips applauds " thy praiseworthy attempts to 
improve the minds of the labouring poor in your 
neighbourhood," and sends a supply of booksp He 
has severe views as to what reading is beneficial, and 
sternly bars ail fiction. " I was much pleased with the 
hesitating perhaps to * two or three novels.' Experto 
crede "P^oberto. Let them read none. Few of them are 
true pictures of life. The best of them fill the mind 


with dreams of imaginary happiness not to be enjoyed 
in this life." 

In 1796, Tom Wedgwood took the first of many 
tours out of England in search of health, spending 
some five months in Germany and Switzerland, with 
Leslie for his companion. As a rule his letters during 
such absences are not cheerful reading, being but too 
full of his health troubles ; but this journey was com- 
paratively prosperous. He does much of it on foot, 
at one time walking 200 miles, as he reckons, in 
fourteen days ; and he apparently walks without diffi- 
culty over mountain passes in the Swiss Oberland. 
The two friends follow the now familiar route, 
Lucerne, Rigi, Brunig, Meyringen, Grindelwald, 
Lauterbrunnen, Thun ; and his long, cheerful letters, 
telling his brother Jos of each day's experiences, show 
that at this time he had a spell of fair health. 

It is merely through the accidental preservation of a 
few letters from his friends that a record has survived 
of some of his charitable and public-spirited deeds 
during the years immediately following his father's 
death ; * but enough appears to show that he was 
acting out the scheme of life and duty which was the 
burden of those enthusiastic outpourings to his father 
in his early youth. 

u I mean," he had said at nineteen, " to exert myself 
for the good of my fellow creatures." He had become 

* His only letters of this time are those from abroad. He was an 
enjoying traveller, and every word must have been interesting to the 
readers of a century ago in Staffordshire. But travel-letters have too 
often proved the bane of biographers, and these would be no excep- 
tion to the rule. 


i \^y 

a rich man, and this was what he was trying to do, 
though a cruel fate had cut him off from the possi- 
bility of trying to do it by direct personal work. He 
believed, e/idently, that advance in knowledge was the 
surest means of bettering the condition of the world. 
This belief, doubtless, quite as much as personal 
friendship, was the governing motive which led him to 
promise John Leslie an annuity of ^150 a year, to be 
increased to 250 in the case of his marrying, with the 
view of putting him in a position to go on working at 
physical science, unhampered by anxiety as to his daily 
bread. Leslie at this time (1797) was thirty-one years 
old. He had been pursuing his physical researches, 
but had not got any post suitable to his powers, or any 
other prospect of making a regular income. He was 
at a loose end, and had vague intentions of seeking his 
fortune on the continent or in India. The query on 
which Wedgwood hung the offer of the annuity was : 
" would it materially increase the sum total of your 
philosophical product ? " Leslie's response to this 
(August 1 8, 1797) is in his customary strain of 
magniloquence : 

" Your letter I have perused with surprise and with admira- 
tion. Sentiments so remote from vulgar apprehension, so pure, 
so refined, so far exalted above the cold maxims that govern 
the world ! I well know your elevation of mind, fired by 
every generous resolve, yet attempered by the calm dictates of 
philosophy. But how wide the difference between the aspira- 
tions of beneficence and that vigour of character which success- 
fully spurns the low, the incessant whisperings of opinions and 
interest, and in spite of sacrifice carries its plans into deliberate 
effect ! " 


In another letter, after taking time to consider the 
query, he answers it (at great length) in the affirma- 

Of the letter offering the annuity there is no copy 
among the Wedgwood papers. But we may take the 
motives of the generous act to have been the same as 
we shall see expressed, a little later, in the offer of an 
annuity to Coleridge. What degree of personal attach- 
ment existed between Tom Wedgwood and Leslie it is 
not easy to say. It was apparently a warm feeling, on 
Wedgwood's side at any rate, in the early days of 
their acquaintance at Edinburgh, but the impression 
given by the later letters is that it afterwards sub- 
sided into no more than an intellectual friendship. 
In Wedgwood's letters during their five months 
touring in 1796, he hardly ever mentions his com- 
panion, and the elaborate pomposity of Leslie's style 
effectually masks any feeling there may have been on 
his side. 

Wedgwood's generosity, in this instance, may be said 
to have borne good fruit in the way which he desired. 
Leslie's contributions to the advance of physical science 
were substantial, and they rested on long-continued 
experimental researches which he certainly could not 
have pursued without some assurance of a maintenance. 
His " Experimental Inquiry into the Nature and Pro- 
perties of Heat," has been described as "an important 
contribution to the scientific study of the subject," and 
his discoveries as to the radiation of heat made his 
name widely known. His " differential thermometer " 
is, I understand, still a familiar instrument in physical 
laboratories. He is mentioned by Clerk Maxwell as 


having u given the first correct explanation of the rise 
of liquid in a tube " (capillary attraction). Ice-making 
machines were his invention.* 

* He received the annuity up to the year 1812. He became 
Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh in 1805, and Professor of 
Natural Philosophy there in 1819. He was knighted in 1832 and 
died in the same year. 




THE year 1797 brought with it a notable extension of 
Tom Wedgwood's friendships. He was staying in the 
summer with his brother John at Cote House (near 
Bristol), and it was probably there that he made the 
acquaintance of that interesting and singular man 
Thomas Poole, or " Tom Poole " as every one called 
him, tanner, farmer, and land agent, of Nether Stowey. 
The acquaintance soon became a very close friendship, 
and out of it sprang an equally close friendship with 
Coleridge the poet. 

The admirable biography of Poole by Mrs. Henry 
Sandford,^ gives a vivid picture of his life, besides 
much information, some of it new, as to Coleridge and 
as to Tom Wedgwood. Poole was a man of rough 
exterior, and for the most part self-educated, but what 
we now know of his mind and character fully explains 

* " Thomas Poole and his Friends," 2 vols. Macmillan, 1886. See 
also the notice of Poole in " Diet. Nat. Biog." by Sir L. Stephen. Mrs, 
Sandford is, I believe, the grand-daughter of one of Poole's first cousins, 
He was born in 1765, lived practically his whole life at Nether 
Stowey, and died in 1837. The group of friends among whom 
Tom Wedgwood now found himself were all young together. Their 
birth dates all fall within the range of a few years : Coleridge 1772, 
Wedgwood 1771, Wordsworth 1770, Dorothy Wordsworth 1771,. 
Poole 1765, Lamb 1775. 



how it was that he became the attached friend of some 
of the most remarkable Englishmen of his time. 
Here is De Quincey's description of the man as he 
found him in 1807, ten years later than the time of 
his first acquaintance with Tom Wedgwood : 

I found him a stout, plain-looking farmer, leading a bachelor 
life, in a rustic, old-fashioned house, the house, however, upon 
further acquaintance, proving to be amply furnished with 
modern luxuries, and especially with a good library, superbly 
mounted in all departments bearing upon political philosophy ; 
and the farmer turning out a polished and liberal Englishman, 
who had travelled extensively, and who had so entirely dedicated 
himself to the service of his humble fellow countrymen the 
hewers of wood and drawers of water in this part of Somerset- 
shire that for many miles round he was the general arbiter of 
their disputes, the guide and counsellor of their difficulties ; 
besides being appointed executor and guardian to his children 
by every third man who died in or about the town of Nether 

Coleridge had at this time (Midsummer 1797) been 
living for six months in a cottage at Stowey with his 
wife and their infant child. He and Poole were almost 
next door neighbours, for a walk of a few yards along 
a back lane led from the garden of the cottage to the 
garden of Poole's house. Wordsworth and his sister 
Dorothy were just then taking up their abode at 
Alfoxden House in the Quantocks, where they lived 
for a year, about three miles away ; and it was then 

* From an article contributed to T ait's Magazine in 1834, vol. ii. 
p. 139 of Professor Masson's Ed. of De Quincey, 1889. The epithet 
" polished " as applied to Poole, is absurdly out of place. But De 
Quincey's inaccuracies of detail are innumerable, especially when he 
is writing from recollections of thirty or forty years back. 


that they and Coleridge first became intimate. 
Dorothy's journal gives a delightful picture of the 
three friends. There were almost daily meetings, con- 
tinual walkings to and fro between Stowey and Alfox- 
den, wanderings among the glades and over the downs 
of the Quantocks they were, as Coleridge said, " three 
people and one soul." In much of this intimacy Poole 
shared. He had been a good friend to Coleridge since 
1794, the days of the wild Pantisocracy scheme, had 
helped him much, and was still helping him. For some 
years past he had been his chief stand-by in all trouble. 
Into this remarkable group of friends Tom Wedgwood 
came through his acquaintance with Poole. Unfortu- 
nately we have none of his letters of this date, and it is 
only through a few words in a note book kept for 
jotting down memoranda bearing on his metaphysical 
studies that we know that in September of this year he 
paid a visit of five days to the Wordsworths at 
Alfoxden. The note is as follows : 

Time, entering the garden at Langford, September 15, 1797. 

Went down to Wordsworth's with n. Spent 5 days 

there. Remarked to n on the 5th day at Alfoxden that 

the time had gone like lightning. He agreed with me. Enter- 
ing the garden at L , it struck me as being very long since 

I had entered it before, though I knew it was only five days. 
Might not this be owing to my having never " intermediately " 
thought of the garden ? Its recollection was faint, and sug- 
gested remoteness of time, as faint objects do distance in sight.* 

* Tom Wedgwood evidently did much of his metaphysical think- 
ing while travelling, and it was his habit to keep by him a notebook 
wherein he could record at the moment anything that occurred to 
him. The front page of the one containing the above observation 


One would have liked to have heard something of 
the impressions left by those five days spent in the 
company of Coleridge and Wordsworth, and of that 
delightful woman, Dorothy Wordsworth, who was so 
much to both of them. The moment was one of 
supreme interest. For what was stirring those three 
minds was to be the beginning of a new departure in 
English poetry. Wordsworth was still unknown to 
the world, but most of the " Lyrical Ballads " lay on 
his table, ready for the press ; and it was only a few 
weeks later that the three happy people started on that 
memorable walk to Porlock and Lynton, during the 
first few miles of which the " Rime of the Ancient 
Mariner " began to take shape. The talks which went 
on during those autumn days, when, as Wordsworth 
has it in the Prelude : 

Upon smooth Quantoclc's airy ridge they roved 
Unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combes, 

or in the many walks between Stowey and Alfoxden, 
were giving form and force to ideas which were to issue 
in a literary revolution, to mould, more or less, the 
poetry of the coming century, and to colour the whole 
of its intellectual movement. Wedgwood, probably, 
could have had little prevision of what was to come out 
of the association of his new group of friends. The 
poetic side of Coleridge's genius would appeal to him 

bears the words : " If this book is sent by coach or other conveyance 
to A. R. BUSH TAVERN, BRISTOL, to lie till called for, one 
crown will be given to the person sending it." I should guess that 

his companion " n," was the James Tobin with whom both he 

and the Wordsworths were intimate. (See note p. 143.) 


less than the outpourings of that wonderful mind upon 
the subjects which most occupied his own thoughts 
Ethics and Metaphysics.^ In any case the impression 
he carried away was a deep one, as is sufficiently shown 
by what occurred three months later. 

Coleridge's whole existence was made up of visions, 
and his then plan of life, if plan it could be called, was 
one of these. He was living in the cottage found for 
him by Poole. There he was trying, or professed to 
be trying, to support himself with his wife and child 
by a " combination of literature and husbandry." 
Charles Lloyd, the young man who had been living 
with him for a time as pupil and friend, paying 80 a 
year, had left him. The cottage stood in a garden of 
an acre and a half. On this he thought he could 
" raise vegetables and corn enough for myself and wife, 
and feed a couple of grunting cousins from the refuse." 
His evenings he was to devote to literature. "By 
reviews in the magazine and other shilling-scavenger 
employments, I shall probably gain 40 a year, which 
economy and self-denial, gold-beaters, shall hammer 
till it cover my annual expenses." The ever kind 
Poole, who let him have the cottage rent free, was also 
apparently to supply the family with milk, and no 
doubt with other incidentals. Before Tom Wedgwood 
came on the scene, this arcadian dream, hardly less 

* I feel it difficult to imagine that Tom Wedgwood cared deeply 
for poetry. Hazlitt quotes Coleridge as saying that " Mackintosh 
and Tom Wedgwood (of whom, however, he spoke highly) had 
expressed a very indifferent opinion of Mr. Wordsworth, on which 
he remarked to them, * he strides on so far before you that he 
dwindles in the distance.'" 


absurd than the Pantisocracy of a few years earlier, 
must have nearly faded away. The " Watchman " 
enterprise of the previous year (1796) had utterly 
failed, and Coleridge was in great straits. Poole had 
then got together a sum of 35 to 40, six or seven 
friends contributing five guineas each, which was given 
him as a " testimonial, " with the expressed intention 
that the like help should be continued annually for a 
time. The gift seems to have been repeated in 1797. 

It was in December of this year that Coleridge was 
invited to preach in a Unitarian Chapel at Shrewsbury, 
with the prospect of being appointed its minister at a 
salary of 150 a year. "This coming to the know- 
ledge of Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood, they hastened 
to send him a present of 100, to relieve his immediate 
necessities, and to dissuade him from abandoning poetry 
and philosophy for the ministry. The cheque was 
immediately returned by Coleridge with a grateful 
letter, explaining that the ^100 would soon be con- 
sumed, and prospectless poverty recur." * Immedi- 
ately after writing this, he went to Shrewsbury, and on 
the next Sunday, January 14, 1798, preached there the 
sermon so graphically described many years later by 
William Hazlitt in an often quoted passage. Mean- 
while, on the preceding Saturday (January 13), there 
had reached Stowey the following letter, addressed to 
him by Josiah Wedgwood, writing on behalf of himself 
and his brother. 

* These are the words of Mr. Dykes Campbell, p. 81, but see 
note on p. 56 infra. There is nothing in the Wedgwood papers 
referring to this matter. A copy of Coleridge's letter declining 
the jioo exists in Tom Poole's letter-book (T. P., i. 256), but 
Mrs. Sandford does not print it. 


Josiah Wedgwood to S. 'T. Coleridge 


January 10, 1798. 

In the absence of my brother, who has an engagement this 
morning, I take up the pen to reply to your letter received 
yesterday. I cannot help regretting very sincerely that, at this 
critical moment, we are separated by so great a length of the 
worst road in the kingdom. It is not that we have found 
much difficulty in deciding how to act in the present juncture 
of your affairs, but we are apprehensive that, deprived of the 
benefit of conversation, we may fail somewhat in explaining 
our views and intentions with that clearness and persuasion 
which should induce you to accede to our proposal without 
scruple or hesitation nay, with that glow of pleasure which 
the accession of merited good fortune, and the observation of 
virtuous conduct in others, ought powerfully to excite in the 
breast of healthful sensibility. Writing is painful to me. I 
must endeavour to be concise, yet to avoid abruptness. My 
brother and myself are possessed of a considerable superfluity of 
fortune ; squandering and hoarding are equally distant from our 
inclinations. But we are earnestly desirous to convert this 
superfluity into a fund of beneficence, and we have now been 
accustomed for some time, to regard ourselves rather as Trustees 
than Proprietors. We have canvassed your past life, your 
present situation and prospects, your character and abilities. 
As far as certainty is compatible with the delicacy of the esti- 
mate, we have no hesitation in declaring that your claim upon 
the fund appears to come under more of the conditions we 
have prescribed for its disposal, and to be every way more un- 
objectionable, than we could possibly have expected. This 
result is so congenial with our heartfelt wishes, that it will be 
a real mortification to us if any misconception or distrust of 
our intentions, or any unworthy diffidence of yourself, should 
interfere to prevent its full operation in your favour. 


After what my brother Thomas has written,* I have only 
to state the proposal we wish to make to you. It is that you 
shall accept an annuity for life of 150, to be regularly paid 
by us, no condition whatsoever being annexed to it. Thus 
your liberty will remain entire, you will be under the influence 
of no professional bias, and will be in possession of a "permanent 
income not inconsistent with your religious and political creeds" t so 
necessary to your health and activity. 

I do not now enter into the particulars of the mode of 
securing the annuity, &c. that will be done when we receive 
your consent to the proposal we are making ; and we shall only 
say that we mean the annuity to be independent of everything 
but the wreck of our fortune, an event which we hope is not 
very likely .to happen, though it must in these times be regarded 
as more than a bare possibility. 

Give me leave now to thank you for the openness with 
which you have written to me, and the kindness you express 
for me, to neither of which can I be indifferent, and I shall 
be happy to derive the advantages from them that a friendly 
intercourse with you cannot fail to afford me. 

I am very sincerely yours, 


* What Tom had written we do not, and probably never shall, 
know* Presumably Josiah is alluding to the letter sending Coleridge 
jioo, which Mr. Dykes Campbell describes as written " to dissuade 
him from abandoning poetry and philosophy for the ministry." The 
terms of that letter have never, I believe, been published, and pro- 
bably it does not exist. Coleridge's mention of it in a letter of 
January 30, 1798, to Thelwall (" Letters of S. T. C.," 234), shows 
nothing to connect it with the Shrewsbury invitation, save the fact 
that it and the invitation reached him at the same time. But the 
Wedgwoods may have known before that time that Coleridge was 
thinking of becoming a Unitarian minister. 

t A "quotation," says Mrs. Sandford, "from S. T. C.'s last 

t Poole entered a copy of Josiah's letter in his own letter-book, 
from which copy it was printed for the first time by Mrs. Sandford 
(T. P., i. 259). She describes it as a reply to the letter of 
Coleridge declining the 100, which letter I take to be the one 


This letter was opened by Poole, who at once wrote 
to Coleridge, sending him a copy of it ; and strenuously 
urging him to accept the offer. This found Coleridge 
at Wem, a village near Shrewsbury, where he was stay- 
ing for a few days with the Hazlitts. He accepted 
the proposal at once. Hazlitt's account * says : 

When I came down to breakfast, I found that he had just 
received a letter from his friend T. Wedgwood, making him an 
offer of 150 a year if he chose to waive his present pursuit, 
and devote himself entirely to the study of poetry and philosophy. 
Coleridge seemed to make up his mind to close with this pro- 
posal in the act of tying on one of his shoes. 

The letter conveying the acceptance is apparently 
not now extant ; that it expressed his deep gratitude 
may be safely inferred from his allusions to the 
brothers 7 generosity in other letters and at other times. 
" You know, of course," he writes to Wordsworth, 
" that I have accepted the magnificent liberality of 
Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood." And to Thelwall 
(January 30, 1798), he says: "Astonished, agitated, 
and feeling as I could not help feeling, I accepted the 
offer in the same worthy spirit, I hope, in which it was 
made." (Letters of S. T. C, pp. 234, 235.) 

Josiah mentions as " received yesterday." Poole's letter to Coleridge 
sending him a copy of Josiah's (also printed by Mrs. Sandford) is 
curiously argumentative, as if he were afraid Coleridge would decline 
the offer. 

* First published in 1817 by Hazlitt in the Examiner and reprinted 
by him with additions more than once. The whole story evidently 
made a deep impression on him, so that his recollections were 
probably accurate, notwithstanding the lapse of twenty years. 


The following letter has more than once been printed 
as being that conveying the acceptance. This it was 
not, but a reply to a note from Tom Wedgwood 
asking him to come at once to Cote House, whither, 
no doubt, Tom was then going from Penzance. The 
"Friday night " must have been January 26, 1798.* 

S. 'T. Coleridge to Tom Wedgwood 

Friday night, 

Twelve o'clock. 

I have this moment received your letter, and have scarcely 
more than a moment to answer it by return of post. If kindly 
feelings can be repaid by kindly feelings, I am not your debtor. 
I would wish to express the something that is big at my heart, 
but I know not how to do it without indelicacy. As much ab- 
stracted from personal feelings, as is possible, I honour and esteem 
you for that which you have done. I must, of necessity, stay here 
till the close of Sunday next. On Monday morning I shall 
leave it, and on Tuesday will be with you at Cote House. 
Very affectionately yours, 


The letter making the offer of the annuity was 
written, it will be seen, by Josiah Wedgwood, but this, 
as the first words show, was an accident. I think it is 

* (See T. P., i. 261, and Dykes Campbell, p. 84.) This point 
of detail would be of no consequence if Coleridge's hasty note had 
not been wrongly read as representing his feelings on receiving the 
offer of the annuity. Cottle's print of the letter is, as usual, inaccu- 
rate in several places. The original is at Leith Hill Place. 


certain that the act was due to Tom's initiative. Sub- 
sequent correspondence shows that Coleridge was much 
less intimate with Josiah than with his brother, and 
there can be little doubt that it was the impression 
which Tom took away from those autumn days at 
Stowey and Alfoxden that impelled him to come to 
Coleridge's assistance at the critical moment of the 
Shrewsbury candidature. It was in the preceding 
summer that he had promised the annuity to Leslie. 
In that Josiah had no share ; but there was the closest 
possible union between the brothers, and we may easily 
suppose that he would be anxious to take his part in 
this new exercise of a wise generosity. 

Wordsworth called it an act of " unexampled 
liberality," and this it probably was. There have been, 
of course, in all times " patrons" of poets and men of 
genius. But this act had nothing of patronage in it, 
nor anything savouring of selfishness. It sprang from 
the same kind of impulse as prompted that memorable 
legacy of ^900 left by the dying Raisley Calvert to 
Wordsworth, upon which little sum, with a few slight 
windfalls, he and his sister managed to live during 
those seven or eight years at Alfoxden and Dove 
Cottage which gave to the world the most imperish- 
able of his poems. The history of the world, perhaps, 
could show no case of a little money better used than 
that. The act differed from the Wedgwoods' only in 
being a bequest while theirs was an immediate gift. 
But whether " unexampled " or not, their liberality was 
of a rare kind.^ The brothers were acting out, in a 

* The nearest parallel to it which I can remember, is that of the 


very uncommon way, that high conception of wealth as 
a trust which is so often heard of but so seldom trans- 
lated into deeds. How far the annuity worked for the 
good of Coleridge, or for the benefit of the world, 
except as a fine example of public spirit, is a question 
not to be answered with certainty. No one can be 
sure that if he had taken for a time the charge of the 
Shrewsbury chapel, the pressure and stimulus of regular 
work might not have saved him from the weakness 
which practically spoilt his life. One can hardly say 
that the relief from pressing money cares stimulated 
his poetic faculty. The " Ancient Mariner " was begun 

annuity secured to Beethoven by three Viennese grandees, in order 
to deliver him from the necessity of teaching for a livelihood, and 
give him the leisure to which we owe the grandest of his music. 
Their wise liberality has given a secure immortality to the names 
of the Archduke Rudolph, Prince Lobkowitz, and Prince Kinsky ; 
but their act was not clear of a touch of selfishness ; for they did 
it partly to keep Beethoven in Vienna, fearing lest he might be 
tempted by some royal or noble music-lover to migrate to Berlin or 
elsewhere. Similarly the world has reason to be grateful to the 
Esterhazys for maintaining Haydn in ease and plenty for many 
years ; but that, of course, was only in a secondary sense an act of 
public spirit, to keep an orchestra and a composer as part of a 
princely establishment being in that time and country much the 
same thing as an English peer's keeping a pack of foxhounds. 

Southey had, from 1797 (<zt. 23), an annuity settled on him by 
his old schoolfellow Charles Wynn, which he insisted on relinquishing 
when Wynn married, but private friendship counted for much in 
that case. 

The case of Auguste Comte and his English admirers, Grote, 
Molesworth, Mill, and Currie, who came to his assistance on his 
losing an official income, is another example of public spirit. But 
it ended somewhat uncomfortably, for when the philosopher began 
to claim payment of the subsidy as a right, the donors, partly perhaps 
because they had cooled in their estimate of his philosophy, did 
not see their way to continue it. 


in November 1797, before the annuity was thought of, 
and finished in March 1798 ; the first part of " Chris- 
tabel " was produced in that same year 1797. Save 
the second part of " Christabel," which was completed 
in 1800, little of his work after 1797 can be said to be 
of substantial value.^ That the " shaping spirit of 
imagination" which produced such a marvel as the 
" Ancient Mariner " should have thus gone to sleep, 
only to wake again at rare moments, is one of the sad 
wonders of Coleridge's life. The annuity, however, 
had one immediate result, the effects of which were far- 
reaching. Coleridge's stay in Germany was from 
September 1798 to June 1799. It was there that he 
got his knowledge of the language and began to make 
a close acquaintance with German poetry and philo- 
sophy. German literature was at that time practically 
unknown in England, though there had been signs 
here and there, towards the end of the century, that 
we were beginning to take note of its existence. It 
was Coleridge who played the leading part in bringing 
German philosophy within the range of English ideas, 
and the residence in the country which enabled him to 
do this was the first result of the annuity. f The 

* "Kubla Khan was written about April 1798 (D. C., p. 88), 
"Love" in 1798-99, "France" in February 1798, "Dejection" 
and the " Chamounix Sunrise-hymn" in 1802. Sara Coleridge, 
herein agreeing with all the world, calls 1797 her father's " annus 
mirabilis," his "poetical zenith " (" Biog. Lit." ed. 1847, ii. 421). 

t Sir L. Stephen, in the " History of English Thought in the 
Eighteenth Century," calls Coleridge " the interpreter of Germany 
to England." See also the same writer's Essay on the " Importation 
of German " (" Studies of a Biographer "), in which he brings together 
a number of curious particulars as to the first beginnings of the 
study of German literature and philosophy in England. "Cole- 


project had been talked over, apparently, between him 
and the Wordsworths at Alfoxden, and it took shape 
almost immediately after they gave up that abode at 
Midsummer 1798. By September they and Coleridge 
were on their way to Hamburg, he leaving his wife and 
child at Stowey. The route they took, by Gottingen, 
Goslar, and the Hartz Mountains, was exactly that 
which Tom Wedgwood had followed with Leslie a year 
and a half earlier. This was probably more than a 
coincidence. We may suppose the whole scheme to 
have been planned at Alfoxden, where Wedgwood 
would naturally have talked about his travels of the 
preceding year in the country the three friends were 
about to visit. In any case it was the annuity which 
made the journey possible to Coleridge. 5 * His meeting 
with Tom Wedgwood was the turning-point of his 

He was then twenty-five, and had yet thirty-seven 
years to live. During many of these years he was 
under the bondage of the opium-slavery, which so 
nearly wrecked his life. But from this he was to re- 
cover, as we all know, and to such effect that one of 

ridge," he says, " must be regarded as the main channel through 
which German philosophy began to influence Englishmen." 

* It has been stated that the Wedgwoods supplied the funds for 
Coleridge's journey, besides giving him the annuity : but I know of 
nothing to show that they did this. Professor Knight (" Life of 
Wordsworth," vol. i.) seems to think that they also defrayed part 
of the Wordsworths' expenses, but I think any help they gave him 
was only by way of loan, and by enabling him to get his drafts 
cashed through their German correspondents. A letter of Josiah 
(February 5, 1799) mentions drawings of this kind, and in another 
letter (July 31, 1800) he alludes to the repayment of an advance 
of 100 which he made to Wordsworth for the tour. 


the greatest thinkers of the succeeding generation, one 
whose words were as oracles to the English youth of 
his time, could speak of him as " one of the two 
seminal minds of the century." Thus wrote John 
Stuart Mill in 1840, coupling him with Bentham a 
curious collocation, but one that shows, at least, the 
breadth of view on which the judgment was founded. 
If Coleridge's far-reaching influence on many of the 
finest minds of the next generations has tended to the 
benefit of the world, we may well " count it for right- 
eousness " to Tom Wedgwood that he had the insight 
to discern, in the unknown young man of twenty-five, 
during these five days at Stowey and Alfoxden, a rare 
and original genius, and that when the opportunity 
came he did what he could to set that genius free for 
doing the highest service to the world. How it was 
that such a life as Coleridge's, made up of visionary 
schemings, with only fitful intervals of fragmentary 
effort, and with hardly any accomplished result save 
the few pages of poetry which have enshrined him 
among the immortals, should have left such an influ- 
ence behind it, is a standing wonder. His earlier and 
his later life seem like the lives of two different men. 
Any attempt to estimate the extent of that influence 
would be here out of place. I may perhaps recall 
one example which to myself has always been a con- 
vincing proof of its reality and power, the life and 
work of Frederick Denison Maurice. The aims and 
beliefs of that " spiritual splendour " (as Gladstone 
called him, quoting Dante's description of St. Dominic 
in the Taradiso\ whose mind and character became, in 
their turn, a living and inspiring influence still felt in 


various spheres of English life, were a direct out- 
come of Coleridge's teaching.^ 

* Whatever may be the true view of Coleridge's teaching we 
need not, I think, take any serious account of Carlyle's famous 
caricature of him in the " Life of Sterling." (" Coleridge sat on 
the top of Highgate Hill," &c.) That I prefer to think of as merely 
a piece of picturesque satire, thrown in for the sake of literary 
effect, and a good example of the rule that in writing history the 
picturesque is the deadly enemy of the true. This, perhaps, was 
what Jowett chiefly meant when he wrote of Carlyle as " a man 
totally regardless of truth." He certainly had in him, with all his 
virtues, a strain of churlish jealousy which made him incapable of 
heartily admiring genius in a contemporary. A man who was 
always talking of the "eternal verities," and yet never told the 
world how much he himself believed of any known creed, should 
not have scoffed at another man's religion as " Coleridgean moon- 
shine." " Coleridge was not," says Carlyle, "without what talkers 
call wit" ! Did ever a sneer go more hopelessly wide of the mark ? 
But perhaps what looks like malice may have only been dyspepsia. 


1798 1800 

IN the winter of 1797-98, Tom Wedgwood, as we 
have seen, was at Penzance with his brother, making 
one of his many experiments on change of climate as a 
means of combating his disease. During the latter part 
of 1798, Josiah's house at Stoke d'Abernon in Surrey 
was apparently his temporary home, and here we find 
Coleridge visiting them shortly before his departure 
for Germany. Writing hence to Poole (in June), he 
says : 

The Wedgwoods received me with joy and affection. I 
have been metaphysicizing so long and so closely with T. W. 
that I am a caput mortuum^ mere lees and residuum. . . . This 
place is a noble, large house in a rich, pleasant country ; but 
the little toe of Quantock is better than the head and shoulders 
of Surrey and Middlesex.* 

During a great part of these two years (1798-99) 
the brothers were making journeys and inquiries in 
various parts of the South of England, trying to find 
an estate which they could make their permanent 
home. In this search Poole joined very zealously, and 

* T. P., i. 271. 


at one time they were on the point of settling near 
Taunton, in his immediate neighbourhood. They had 
nearly purchased an attractive estate there, and were 
planning to get an abode in the same country for their 
mother and sisters. This project, however, broke down, 
another purchaser having anticipated them. Poole had 
set his heart upon securing them as life-long neigh- 
bours, and his disappointment at this failure was intense. 
Here is his letter announcing it : 

2". Poole to T. Wedgwood 


Wednesday (Feb. 1799). 

This morning I got to Combe Florey, and was too much 
sickened with the intelligence I heard to proceed upon the 
business I was upon. I heard that Gwyn had actually yesterday 
sold Pigott the Mansion House and fifty acres of land and 
Lethbridge Coomdown Estate. To be certain I came here 
and have seen Gwyn. // is true. ... I hope this disappoint- 
ment is not severe to you, but it is indeed to me the greatest I 
ever sustained. ... I will never set my heart upon anything 

Yours ever, 


A letter of Poole to Coleridge brings in this grievous 
disappointment as to the estate in a curious way. 
Mrs. Coleridge had just lost her youngest boy, the 
baby Berkeley. 

I have advised her [writes Poole to Josiah Wedgwood] not 
to inform Coleridge of his death. For he indulges in such 
tumultuous feelings upon every possible occasion where his 
wife and children are concerned, and his untired imagination 


is so active in conjuring up every possible scene of distress 
which could have occurred to them, that I am persuaded the 
knowledge of this event would either hurry him home, or at 
least prevent for a long time his exerting himself to any 

Poole accordingly writes himself to Coleridge to tell 
him the sad news in a judicious fashion. After detail- 
ing the circumstances of the baby's death, he launches 
into an argument to the effect that as a parent's love of 
an infant is not " a thing of reason," but only " a wise 
law of nature/' " a mere instinct, destined to preserve 
man in his infant state," such a death ought not to be 
a serious grief to the parent. 

Let your mind act [he says] not your feelings. . . . Mrs. 
Coleridge is now perfectly well, and does not make herself 
miserable by recalling the engaging, though, remember, mere 
instinctive "attractions" of an infant a few months old. 
Heaven and Earth ! I have myself experienced disappoint- 
ments more weighty than the death of ten infants. There are 
two particular friends of mine who offered, ten days ago, 
22,000 for a delightful estate within seven miles of Stowey. 
But for an untoward circumstance, they would have had it. ... 
The loss to the neighbourhood is incalculable. . . .* 

This odd outburst is not in keeping with Poole's 
undeniable kindness of heart, and it betokens a strange 
lack of imagination. But it also shows the warmth of 
his attachment to the Wedgwoods. His letters, of 
which many remain, show that no man can have had a 
truer friend than Tom Wedgwood had in him. Many 
were evidently written with no other purpose than to 

* Letter of March 15, 1799. T. P., i. 290. 


put a little hope and brightness into the gloomy life 
of the poor, sick, broken man. With the same object 
he was always ready to go to him, to be his com- 
panion in travel or to welcome him to Stowey and 
a most burdensome guest he must have been when- 
ever it seemed likely that a change of surroundings 
would help to mitigate his troubles. It was a quite 
brotherly devotion. 

When Coleridge's stay in Germany was drawing to 
a close, Josiah had from him the following letter : 

S. < T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 


May 21, 1799. 

I have lying by my side six huge letters, with your name on 
each of them, and all excepting one have been written for 
these three months. About this time Mr. Hamilton, by whom 
I send this and the little parcel for my wife, was, as it were, 
setting off for England ; and I seized the opportunity of sending 
them by him, as without any mock-modesty I really thought 
that the expense of the Postage to me and to you would be 
more than their worth. Day after day, and week after week, 
was Hamilton going, and still delayed; and now that it is 
absolutely settled that he goes to-morrow, it is likewise abso- 
lutely settled that I shall go this day three weeks, and I have 
therefore sent only this and the Picture by him, but the letters 
I will now take myself, for I should not like them to be lost, 
as they comprise the only subject on which I have had any 
opportunity of making myself thoroughly informed, and if I 
carry them myself, I can carry them without danger of their 
being seized at Yarmouth, as all my letters were, yours to the 
Von Axens, &c., excepted, which were luckily not sealed. 
Before left England, I had read the Book of which you 


speak.* I must confess that it appeared to me exceedingly 
illogical. Godwin's and Condorcet's extravagancies were not 
worth confuting; and yet I thought that the Essay on Popula- 
tion had not confuted them. Professor Wallace, Derham, and 
a number of German Statistic and Physico-theological writers 
had taken the same ground, namely, that Population increases 
in a geometrical but the accessional nutriment only in an 
arithmetical ratio ; and that vice and misery, the natural con- 
sequences of this order of things, were intended by Providence 
as the Counterpoise. I have here no means of procuring so 
obscure a book as Rudgard's ; but to the best of my recollection, 
at the time that the Fifth Monarchy enthusiasts created so 
great a sensation in England, under the Protectorate and the 
beginning of Charles the Second's reign, Rudgard or Rutgard 
(I am not positive even of the name) wrote an Essay to the 
same purpose ; in which he asserted, that if War, Pestilence, 
Vice, and Poverty were wholly removed, the World could not 
exist two hundred years, &c. Stissmilch, in his great work 
concerning the divine order and regularity in the Destiny of 
the human Race has a chapter entitled a confutation of this 
idea ; I read it with great eagerness, and found therein that this 
idea militated against the Glory and Goodness of God, and 
must therefore be false, but further confutation found I none ! 
This book of Sussmilch's has a prodigious character throughout 
Germany ; and never methinks did a Work less deserve it. It 
is in 3 huge octavos, and wholly on the general Laws that 
regulate the Population of the human species ; but is throughout 
most unphilosophical, and the tables, which he has collected 
with great Industry, proved nothing. My objections to the 
Essay on Population you will find in my sixth letter at large ; 
but do not, my dear sir, suppose that because unconvinced by 
this Essay, I am therefore convinced of the contrary. No, 
God knows I am sufficiently sceptical, and in truth more than 
sceptical, concerning the possibility of universal Plenty and 

* Malthus's " Essay on the Principle of Population " was published 
(anonymously) in 1798. 


Wisdom ; but my doubts rest on other grounds. I had some 
conversation with you before I left England on this subject ; 
and from that time I had proposed to myself to examine as 
thoroughly as it was possible for me the important question, 
Is the march of the Human Race progressive, or in cycles ? 
But more of this when we meet. 

What have I done in Germany ? I have learned the lan- 
guage, both high and low German ; I can read both, and speak 
the former so fluently, that it must be a torture for a German 
to be in my company that is, I have words enough and 
phrases enough, and I arrange them tolerably ; but my pronuncia- 
tion is hideous. 2ndly, I can read the oldest German, the 
Prankish, and the Swabian. 3rdly, I have attended the 
lectures on Physiology, Anatomy, and Natural History, with 
regularity, and have endeavoured to understand these subjects. 
4thly, I have read and made collections for a History of the 
Belles Lettres in Germany before the time of Lessing ; and 
5thly, very large collections for a Life of Lessing, to which I 
was led by the miserably bad and unsatisfactory Biographies 
that have been hitherto given, and by my personal acquaintance 
with two of Lessing's Friends. Soon after I came into 
Germany, I made up my mind fully not to publish anything 
concerning my Travels, as people call them ; yet I soon per- 
ceived that with all possible economy my expenses would be 
greater than I could justify, unless I did something that would 
to a moral certainty repay them. I chose the Life of Lessing 
for the reasons above assigned, and because it would give me 
an opportunity of conveying, under a better name than my own 
ever will be, opinions * which I deem of the highest importance. 
Accordingly my main business at Gottingen has been to read 
all the numerous Controversies in which L. was engaged; 
and the works of all those German Poets before the time of 
Lessing, which I could not or could not afford to buy. For 
these last four months, with the exception of last week, in 

* Here he wrote, apparently, and then struck out, the words " on' 
History and Metaphysics." 


which I visited the Hartz, I have worked harder than, I trust 
in God Almighty, I shall ever have occasion to work again ; 
this endless transcription is such a body-and-soul-wearying 
Purgatory. I shall have bought thirty pounds worth of books, 
chiefly metaphysics, and with a view to the one work to which 
I hope to dedicate in silence the prime of my life ; but I believe 
and indeed doubt not, that before Christmas I shall have 
repayed myself; but before that time I shall have been under 
the necessity of requesting your permission that I may during 
the year anticipate for 40 or fifty pound. I have hitherto 
drawn on you for 35 & 30 & 30 & 30 = 125^. Of this sum 
I left about 32 or 33 pounds in your hands, of Mr. Chester's, 
when I left England, and Chester has since desired his brother 
to transmit 25^, and again in his last letter 30.^. Wordsworth 
has promised me that he will pay into your hands 4^ for me, 
33 & 25 & 30 & 4 = 92^. Hitherto, therefore, I have drawn 
as it were about 33 or 34 pound, but this week, to pay both our 
Gottingen Bills, and our journey to England, I must draw for 
jo. So that altogether I shall have in this year drawn for 
103 pound. 

I never, to the best of my recollections, felt the fear of Death 
but once ; that was yesterday when I delivered the picture to 
Hamilton. I felt, and shivered as I felt it, that I should not 
like to die by land or water before I see my wife and the little 
one that I hope yet remains to me. But it was an idle sort of 
feeling, and I should not like to have it again. Poole half 
mentioned, in a hasty way, a circumstance that depressed my 
spirits for many days, that you and Thomas were on the point 
of settling near Stowey, but had abandoned it. " God Al- 
mighty ! what a dream of happiness it held out to me ! " writes 
Poole. 7 felt disappointment without having had hope ! 

In about a month I hope to see you. Till then may heaven 
bless and preserve us ! Believe me, my dear sir, with every 
feeling of love, esteem, and gratitude, 

Your affectionate Friend, 



The object of this letter was evidently to satisfy the 
natural wish of the brothers to hear what Coleridge was 
doing. They would not understand as well as we do 
how little, alas ! was signified by the large literary pro- 
jects he tells them of. Neither the JLessing biography, 
as we know, nor the pre-Lessing history of Belles 
Lettres, came to anything. One is half inclined to 
wonder whether the " six huge letters," which had 
waited so mysteriously three months for a means of 
conveyance, ever had any objective existence. If they 
ever reached Josiah's hands it seems strange that they 
should not be found with other letters of Coleridge 
carefully kept by him. 

In August 1799 the brothers' long hunt for a place 
of abode was ended by their hearing of what seemed a 
suitable property in Dorsetshire, a house with an estate 
of moderate size round it, which Josiah soon agreed to 
take. This was Gunville House (or Park) at Tarrant 
Gunville, some five or six miles from Blandford. 
Josiah's plan was to live here during most of each year, 
migrating to Staffordshire for about three months every 
summer, in order to look after the works at Etruria. 
A year later Tom bought the Eastbury estate, a pro- 
perty separated only by a road from Gunville, and here 
soon afterwards his mother and sisters joined him. 
The place was remote from any considerable town, the 
nearest being Salisbury, about seventeen miles away. 
One may judge from the present old-world look of the 
little village how utterly rural must have been its 
aspect in 1800. The house at Eastbury Park was (and 


is) a singular one, being but a remnant of a magnificent 
mansion built by Vanbrugh, about 1718, for Bubb 
Dodington, at a cost, it is said, of about 150,000. 
Earl Temple, who inherited the estate, found the vast 
building a burdensome possession. He offered to pay 
any gentleman 200 a year to inhabit it, and when this 
failed to secure a tenant, he took it down, selling it 
piecemeal, all but one wing. This was done about 

Josiah's life at Gunville became that of a country 
gentleman. He hunted, shot, did his share of county 
business, and became deeply interested in improving his 
breed of sheep. * 

This would have been a happy family settlement but 
for the gloom thrown over it by Tom's sad condition 
of health. He had long given up all serious work, 
and his life was devoted to the wearying struggle to 
get the better of his disease. The " warm-room cure " 
had had no good result ; but cold, apparently, was his 
great enemy, and we now find him busy with the pro- 
blem how to adapt a part of Gunville House to carry- 
ing out some regime , of the same kind. Herein he 
sought the aid of his and his father's old friend, James 
Watt, who had already been the deviser of the appa- 
ratus for generating Beddoes' medicinal " airs." How 
eager the great engineer was to help him is shown by 

* Tom Wedgwood's educational theories (p. 208) absolutely 
ignored any such thing as inheritance or congenital character. And 
yet he must have seen his brother taking vast pains to get rams or 
the right sort. Strange that this object-lesson never, apparently, 
led him to question the omnipotence of education, a theory which 
seems to assume that all human infants are born with substantially 
the same character ! 


five or six very long letters, in which Watt describes, 
with careful drawings by his own hand, various elabo- 
rate appliances, special grates, window fittings, and 
ventilating contrivances, which he thinks will suit 
Wedgwood's purpose. But Gunville is not yet in a 
condition fit for an invalid's occupation, and in the 
beginning of 1 800 Tom is planning a voyage to the 
West Indies, hoping that a year of tropical heat may do 
something for him. 

The following two letters from Coleridge are of this 
time. The first gives an idea of his life in London, 
where he is writing for the Morning Post, and of his 
various shadowy literary projects. The other answers 
a letter from Josiah about the West India scheme. 

S. 'T. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 


[Jan.] 1800. 


I am sitting by a fire in a rug great coat. Your room is 
doubtless to a greater degree air-tight than mine, or your notion 
of Tartarus would veer round to the Greenlander's creed. It 
is most barbarously cold, and you, I fear, can shield yourself 
from it only by perpetual imprisonment. If any place in the 
southern Climates were in a state of real quiet, and likely to 
continue so, should you feel no inclination to migrate ? Poor 
Southey, from over great industry as I suspect, the Industry, too> 
of a solitary Composition, has reduced himself to a terrible state 
of weakness, and is determined to leave this Country as soon as 
he has finished the poem on which he is now employed. 'Tis 


a melancholy thing so young a man, and one whose life has 
ever been so simple and self-denying ! Oh, for Peace, and 
the south of France ! I could almost wish fora Bourbon king, 
if it were only that Sieyes and Buonaparte might finish their 
career in the old orthodox way of Hanging. Thank God, I 
have my health perfectly and I am working hard ; yet the present 
state of human affairs presses on me for days together, so as to 
deprive me of all my chearfulness. It is probable that a man's 
private and personal connections and interests ought to be upper- 
most in his daily and hourly Thoughts, and that the dedication 
of much hope and fear to subjects which are perhaps dispro- 
portionate to our faculties and power is a disease. But I have 
had this disease so long, and my early Education was so undo- 
mestic, that I know not how to get rid of it ; or even to wish 
to get rid of it. Life was so flat a thing without enthusiasm, 
that if fora moment it leaves me, I have a sort of a stomach- 
sensation attached to all my Thoughts, like those which succeed 
to the pleasurable operation of a dose of opium. Now I make 
up my mind to a sort of heroism in believing the progressiveness 
of all nature, during the present melancholy state of Humanity; 
and on this subject I am now writing ; and no work on which 
I ever employed myself makes me so happy while I am writing. 
I shall remain in London till April. \The expences of my 
last year made it necessary for me to exert my industry ; ana 
many other good ends are answered at the same time. Where 
I next settle I shall continue, and that must be in a state o 
retirement and rustication. It is therefore good for me to have 
a run of society, and that various, and consisting of marked 
characters. Likewise by being obliged to write without much 
elaboration I shall greatly improve myself in naturalness and 
facility of style ; and the particular subjects on which I write 
for money are nearly connected with my future schemes. My 
mornings I give to compilations, which I am sure cannot be 
wholly useless, and for which by the beginning of April I shall 
have earned nearly an 150^; my evenings to the Theatres,as I am 
to conduct a sort of Dramaturgy or series of Essays on the 


Drama ; both its general principles, and likewise in reference 
to the present state of the English Theatres. This I shall 
publish in the Morning Tost. The attendance on the Theatres 
costs me nothing, and Stuart, the Editor, covers my expences in 
London. Two mornings and one whole day, I dedicate to the 
Essay on the possible Progressiveness of man and on the prin- 
ciples of Population. In April I retire to my greater work, 
The Life of Lessing. My German chests are arrived, but I 
have them not yet, but expect them from Stowey daily ; when 
they come I shall send a little pacquet down to you.; 

To pay my wife's travelling expences in London I borrowed 
29j from my friend Purkis, for which I gave him an order on 
your Brother, York Street, dating it Jan. 5, 1800. Will you 
be kind enough to excuse my having done this without having 
previously written ; but I have every reason to believe that I 
shall have no occasion to draw again till the year 1801 ; and I 
believe, that as I now, [sic] I have not anticipated beyond the 
year, if I have wholly anticipated that. I shall write to Jos. to- 
morrow for certain. 

I have seen a good deal of Godwin, who has just published a 
novel. I like him for thinking so well of Davy. He talks of 
him everywhere as the most extraordinary human Being he had 
ever met with. I cannot say that, for I know one whom I feel 
to be the superior, but I never met with so extraordinary a 
young man. I have likewise dined with Home Tooke. He is 
a clear headed old man, as every man needs must be who attends 
to the real import of words ; but there is a sort of charlatannery 
in his manner that did not please me. He makes such a mystery 
and difficulty out of plain and palpable things, and never tells 
you any thing without first exciting and detaining your curiosity. 
But it were a bad Heart that could not pardon worse faults than 
these in the author of the Epea Pteroenta.* 

Believe me, my dear sir, with much affection, 


S. T. C. 

* Home Tooke, ex-clergyman, radical politician, and philologist, 


S. T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 

Tuesday Morning, 4 Feb., 1800. 



Your brother's health outweighs all other considerations ; and 
beyond a doubt he has made himself acquainted with the degree 
of heat which he is to experience there. The only objections 
that I see are so obvious, that it is idle in me to mention them : 
the total want of men with whose pursuits your brother can 
have a fellow feeling ; the length and difficulty of the return, 
in case of a disappointment ; and the necessity of Sea-voyages 
to almost every change of Scenery. I will not think of the 
Yellow Fever ; that, I hope, is quite out of all probability. 
Believe me, my dear friend, I have some difficulty in suppressing 
all that is within me of affection and grief ! God knows my 
heart ; wherever your Brother is, I shall follow him in spirit ; 
follow him with my thoughts and most affectionate wishes. 

I read your Letter, and did as you desired me. Montagu* 
is very cool to me. Whether I have still any of the leaven of 
the citizen and visionary about me, too much for his present 
zeal ; or whether M. is incapable of attending to more than 
one man at a time ; or whether from his dislike of my pressing 
him to do something for poor Wordsworth ; or perhaps from all 
these causes combined certain it is that he is shy of me. Of 

(born 1736, died 1812), published his " Err fa nrepoevra, or the 
Diversions of Purley," an entertaining medley of Etymology, Meta- 
physics, and Politics, in the years 1786-1805. 

* Basil Montagu (b. 1770, d. 1851), friend of Wordsworth, Cole- 
ridge, Mackintosh, and Godwin, was at this time beginning his legal 
career. He became known in later life by the edition of Bacon 
which Macaulay made the text of his famous Essay. It was some 
ten years after this that he was the -:ause of an unfortunate estrange- 
ment between Wordsworth and Coleridge by misreporting something 
Wordsworth had said to him. 


course, I am supposed to know but little of him distinctly from 
himself; this however in Montagu's case implies no loss of any 
authentic source of Information. From his friends I hear that 
the pressure of his immediate circumstances increases, and that 
(as how could it be otherwise, poor fellow !) he lives accumu- 
lating Debts and Obligations. He leaves Wordsworth without 
his Principal and Interest, which of course he would not do, 
W.'s daily bread and meat depending in great part on him, if he 
were not painfully embarrassed. Embarrassed I should have 
said ; for Pinny tells me that he suffers no pain from it. As 
to his views, he is now going to Cambridge to canvass for a fel- 
lowship in Trinity Hall. Mackintosh has kindly written to Dr. 
Lawrence, who is very intimate with the Master ; and he has 
other interest. He is also trying hard for and in expectation of 
a Commissionership of Bankruptcy, and means to pursue the 
Law with all ardour and steadiness. As to the state of his mind 
it is that which it was and will be. God love him ! He has a 
most incurable Forehead. John Pinny called on him and look- 
ing on his table saw by accident a letter directed to himself. "Why, 
Montagu ! that letter is for me, and from Wordsworth ! " 
" Yes ! I have had it some time." " Why did you not give it 
me ? " " Oh ! it wants some explanation first. You must not 
read it now, for I can't give you the explanation now." And 
Pinny, who you know is a right easy-natured man, has not been 
able to get his own Letter from him to this Hour ! Of his 
success at Cambridge Caldwell is doubtful, or more than 
doubtful. He says that men at Cambridge don't trust overmuch 
these sudden changes of Principle. And most certainly, there 
is a zeal, an over acted fervour, a spirit of proselytism that dis- 
tinguishes these men from the manners, and divides them from 
the sympathies, of the very persons to whose party they have gone 
over. Smoking hot from the oven of conversion they don't 
assort well with the old Loaves. So much of Montagu ; all that 
I know, and all, I suspect, that is to be known. A kind, gentle- 
manly, affectionate-hearted man, possessed of an absolute Talent 
for Industry ; would to God ! he had never heard of Philosophy! 


I have been three times to the House of Commons ; each 
time earlier than the former ; and each time hideously crowded. 
The two first Days the Debate was put off ; yesterday I went 
at a quarter before 8, and remained till 3 this morning ; and 
then sat writing, and correcting other men's writing till 8 a 
good twenty four hours of unpleasant activity ! I have not felt 
myself sleepy yet. Pitt and Fox completely answered my pre- 
formed ideas of them. The elegance and high finish of Pitt's 
Periods, even in the most sudden replies, is curious^ but that is 
all. He argues but so so, and does not reason at all. Nothing 
is rememberable in what he says. Fox possesses all the full and 
overflowing Eloquence of a man of clear head, clean heart, and 
impetuous feelings. He is to my mind a great orator ; all the 
rest that spoke were mere creatures. I could make a better 
speech myself than any that I heard, except Pitt's and Fox's. 
I reported that part of Pitt's which I have enclosed in crotchets, 
not that I report ex-officio ; but curiosity haying led me there, 
I did Stuart a service by taking a few notesA I work from morn- 
ing to night, but in a few weeks I shall have Completed my pur- 
pose ; and then adieu to London for ever ! We newspaper 
scribes are true Galley-Slaves. When the high winds of Events 
blow loud and frequent then the Sails are hoisted, or the ship 
drives on of itself. When all is calm and Sunshine, then to our 
oars. Yet it is not unflattering to a man's vanity to reflect that 
what he writes at twelve at night will before twelve hours is over 
have perhaps 5 or 6000 Readers ! To trace a happy phrase, 
good image, or new argument, running through the town and 
sliding into all the papers ! Few Wine-merchants can boast of 
creating more sensation. Then to hear a favourite and often- 
urged argument repeated almost in your own particular phrases 
in the House of Commons ; and quietly in the silent self-com- 
placence of your own heart chuckle over the plagiarism, as if 
you were grand Monopolist of all good Reasons ! But seriously, 
considering that I have newspapered it merely as means of 
subsistence while I was doing other things, I have been very 
lucky. The New Constitution, the Proposals for Peace, the Irish 


Union, &c. &c. they are important in themselves, and excellent 
Vehicles for general Truths. I am not ashamed of what I 
have written. 

I desired Poole to send you all the papers antecedent to your 
own. I think you will like the different Analyses of the French 
Constitution. I have attended Mackintosh regularly. He was 
so kind as to send me a Ticket, and I have not failed to profit 
by it. What I think of M. and all I think I will tell you in 
some future Letter. My affectionate respects to Mrs. W. God 
love you, my dear Sir ! 

I remain, with grateful and most affectionate Esteem, 

Your faithful Friend, 


It was while Tom Wedgwood was preparing for his 
voyage to the West Indies, that he must have been, as 
we may suppose, startled by receiving from Leslie a 
letter making a proposal for the hand of one of his 
sisters. It was of quite prodigious length, and of course 
a most ornate and poetical composition, one so re- 
markable indeed that I am tempted to insert part of it 
here, as a curiosity of amatory literature. Leslie 
having left no descendants, we may hope that no one's 
feelings will be hurt by our taking this liberty with a 
century-old love-story. We may remember that his 
first sight of Kitty and Sarah Wedgwood was when he 
came to stay with the family at Etruria in 1790. 
When he left it in 1792, Sarah, the younger, was about 
sixteen years old. She was now in her twenty-fourth 
year. He does not mention the lady's name, but it is 
believed that Sarah was the adored one. The letter 
begins without any introductory words. 


John Leslie to Tom Wedgwood 


10 Feb., 1800. 

On the eve of bidding a tender adieu, may I venture at last 
to communicate a matter of the most serious and delicate 
nature ? Long has the thought fired and tortured my brain. 
Often have I been on the point of disclosing it and as often 
have I been restrained by timidity or a sense of propriety. 
Still I hesitate. Shall I, by one rash step, provoke your dis- 
pleasure ? That reflection would be the torment of my life. 
Yet to whom should I unbosom myself but to my early and 
tried friend, who has felt such a lively interest in all my 
concerns, and who on this occasion is called by the most sacred 
ties to interpose his counsel ? By dwelling on a loved object 
which absorbs the imagination, by cherishing a sort of forlorn 
hope amidst obstacles seemingly almost insurmountable, a 
passion full of delicious anxiety has gradually sprung up, has 
acquired consistency, and has at length mounted to such a pitch 
as to threaten my repose. I need your indulgence. I will 
submit to your direction. And as the ardour of my attachment 
is chastened by sentiments of deference and distant respect, I 
have some room to expect you will judge me with tenderness. 
Not to keep you longer in suspense, I have had the temerity to 
think of soliciting an alliance in your family. 

You startle at this declaration. It may appear presumptuous 
and romantic. I must intreat you to suppress your emotions 
until you have finished the perusal of this letter. I owe it to 
my conscience to disclaim the idea of being stimulated by 
ambitious motives. Calculations of interest would on this 
occasion ill comport with the warmth of my feelings. I am 
indeed convinced that riches would in a very slight degree, if 
at all, augment my happiness. I have hitherto betrayed no 
disposition to outstep the bounds of mediocrity. The close 
and artificial garb of ambition is foreign to my heart. By dis- 
guising or retracting my sentiments it was more than once in 



my power to have obtained situations which the bulk of men 
considered respectable. I have sought only the approbation of 
my own mind and that of a few discerning friends. My 
attachment to the fair object of all my vows is founded on a 
certain sympathy of character, rendered irresistible by the 
fascination of personal charms. Her fortune and condition, so 
far from inviting the suit, present the most formidable bar to 
the accomplishment of my wishes. 

I have seen very few, indeed none of their sex, with whom 
I would compare your younger sisters. What a bewitching 
assemblage of all the qualities fitted to inspire love, affection 
and esteem ! One of them, and I believe your particular 
favourite, to great personal attractions unites the most un- 
common powers of mind. But her sister seems to possess those 
soft feminine charms which touch and melt the soul. The 
impression I first received can never be effaced. In the bloom of 
health and beauty but what a sweetness was expressed on every 
feature ! I was confused, intoxicated. Fortune soon placed 
me beside her, and the memory of that happy period will always 
affect me with delight. My prepossessions were surpassed by 
experience. That species of mild beauty which is most capti- 
vating, and those qualities of head and heart which justify the 
triumph ! The image was realised which my fancy had framed, 
of the most amiable of women. Gentle, kind, frank and open 
invariably, habitually chearful, without levity, and without 
the smallest particle of affectation. Blessed with the finest 
dispositions on earth, she seemed formed to be happy herself 
and to diffuse happiness around her. Such admirable equality 
of temper ! Never a frown was seen on her brow. Endued 
with good sense, a correct judgment, and a cultivated under- 
standing, with considerable accomplishments, she yet appeared 
unconscious of her merits, and showed on all occasions a 
hesitation and a modesty bordering on timidity, which in her 
sex is altogether irresistible. When I remarked, too, the interior 
economy of the family, those excellent patterns exhibited, the 
ease, simplicity, and decorum which prevailed, that knowledge 


and liberality of sentiment which seasoned every conversation 
I envied the happy man who was destined to enjoy those 
reflected charms. For my part, I durst not aspire I sighed 
in secret. I strove to repress every symptom that might excite 
suspicion. Yet a gleam of hope would at times flit across my 
mind and lift it to extacy. 

A long separation followed, but she remained undisputed 
mistress of my heart. . . . How I longed to see her, without 
daring to signify a wish ! How often my attempts were traversed ! 
At length I enjoyed that supreme satisfaction last summer. I 
found her fresh as Hebe ; and if possible more amiable than 
ever. What kindness and condescension ! My senses were 
overpowered. In the delirium of imagination, I even fancied 
that she betrayed some marks of partiality. I formed the 
resolution to disclose my passion, but I wanted courage and 
opportunity. The most imperious urgency only, the obligation 
of previously consulting your sentiments, could compel me to a 

But why fatigue you with this amorous tale ? ... If I am 
guilty of an offence, I have endeavoured to make it as light as 
possible. Never shall the young lady need to ... [words torn 
away] ... on my account. The secret has not been entrusted 
to mortal ; it shall rest in my breast, it shall perish with me. I 
shall religiously avoid hurting her feelings or those of the family. 
Yet such is my opinion of her perfect goodness that I am 
persuaded she is incapable of conceiving hatred or disdain, and 
that even a repulse from her would be couched in obliging 

I owe a thousand apologies for abusing your patience. It is 
the first time I have written in such a strain the first time I ever 
made profession of love. You see the state of my mind. I am 
agitated by conflicting passions. This is the most momentous 
crisis of my life. My heart swells with anxiety. I tremble to 
hear your advice. A few words will suffice, but let it be from 
your own hand. If it shall be in the least consolatory, it will 
give buoyancy to hope it will in part open the prospect of 


earthly elysium. A contrary presentiment weighs me down. 
Alas ! is all the future to be shrouded in despondency ? I fear 
I have already committed folly. Destroy this letter. 

Farewell ! 


On one of the flaps is a P.S. as to some commissions, 
with the following sentences : 

Your brother's note has at this moment fallen into my hands. 
It rends my heart. I had still some lingering hopes. I have 
a thousand things to say, and your [sic] torn prematurely from 

How the " amorous tale " ended appears from 
Leslie's next letter, which also gives us a glimpse of 
the lady's attitude towards her lover during his visit to 
Stoke in the preceding year. 

John Leslie to T'om Wedgwood 


No date. 

Postmark: Feb. 21, 1800. 

Each new incident raises my admiration of your character, 
and makes me feel more intensely the pang of separation. In 
your last letter you appear in a light peculiarly endearing. The 
circumstances under which it was written, the indulgent and 
friendly tone of admonition all affect me extremely. There is 
a solemnity in the scene. It is a precious relict the last 
perhaps I shall receive for many months. Yet it has dashed all 
the gay visions of hope. I submit, whatever the effort may cost. 
Here the matter shall rest. My spirits are now more composed 
and I shall listen to the dictates of reason. Be assured that my 
conduct shall during your absence give no ground of uneasiness 
or suspicion. I will testify my devotion by observing a religious 
silence. That rapturous attachment can never be extinguished, 


but I may hope that it will finally soften down into permanent 

What a disclosure the letter contains ! I am indeed 
astonished. Nothing could have betrayed me but my em- 
barrassed manner and fixed absent looks, circumstances which 
I imagined would naturally be confounded with my ordinary 
habits. Is it possible that I may have hurt inadvertently the 
feelings of the tenderest, gentlest nymph on earth ? If I have, 
I am heartily concerned for it. But my pardon is already 
sealed. My reception at Stoke I shall never forget. On that 
supposition, it evinced a superiority of mind which might call 
forth admiration, as her other qualities inspire the most ardent 
love. There were some little traits which can never be effaced 
from my mind. But I will discourage all such reflections. 
This is the last time I shall fatigue you with such a theme.* 

The thoughts of your absence make me feel a blank in my 
existence. Yes, my inestimable friend, we shall meet again; 
the Atlantic shall not long part us. Tho' I opposed the 
West India project, do not imagine that after your mind was 
unalterably fixed that I would have declined to accompany 
you. On several accounts you have made a better choice. 
But should circumstances require any change of arrangement, 
depend always on my services. I will fly to join you on any 
spot of the globe. . . . 

Pray, when your spirits will permit, get Koenig to write 
out your metaphysical speculations. In case of accident, there 
should be more than one copy. If one were transmitted to 
me I would foster it with paternal care. 

I may write again before you start. My prayers and wishes 
will attend you on the voyage. Farewell. 

* Sarah Wedgwood had many suitors, some quite in middle life, 
but she died unmarried. A grand-niece who remembers her in her 
old age tells me she never can have been beautiful. She was an able 
and a very generous woman, spent little on herself, and gave away 
nearly the whole of her fortune in charity. 




ON one of the last days of February 1800, Tom 
Wedgwood sailed for the West Indies, hoping that 
some months in the tropics might better his health. 
It was practically the first separation of the two 
brothers, and how deeply the feelings of both were 
stirred by it appears from a letter of Josiah written a 
few days later. 

Josiah Wedgwood to 'Tom Wedgwood 


February 28, 1800. 

I cannot resist the temptation of employing my first moment 
of leisure to unburden my heart in writing to you. The dis- 
tance that separates us, the affecting circumstances under which 
we parted, our former inseparable life and perfect friendship, 
unite to deepen the emotion with which I think of you, and 
give an importance and solemnity that is new to my communi- 
cation with you. I did not know till now how dearly I love 
you, nor do you know with what deep regret I forbore to 
accompany you. It was a subject I could not talk to you upon, 
though I was perpetually desirous to make you acquainted with 
all my feelings upon it. I could not without necessity leave 
my wife and children, and I believed that I ought not, yet my 


resolution was not taken without a mixture of self-reproach. 
But I repeat the promise I made to you at Falmouth. I have 
not yet been able to think of you with dry eyes, but a little 
time will harden me. It is not so necessary for me to see you, 
as to know that you are well and happy. Nothing can be 
more disinterested than the love I bear you. I know that my 
wife and children could alone render me happy, but I see with 
the most heartfelt concern that your admirable qualifications 
are rendered ineffectual for your happiness and your fame by 
your miserable health. But I have a full conviction that your 
constitution is strong and elastic, and that your present 
experiment bids fair to remove the derangement of your 
machine. I look forward with hope and joy to our meeting 
again, and I am sure the seeing you again well and vigorous 
will be a moment of the purest happiness I can feel. 

Perhaps this may be the last time I shall write to you in this 
strain. If it should for a time revive your sorrow, it cannot 
long injure your tranquillity to be told that I love you, esteem 
you, and admire you, truly and deeply. 

I took possession of this place this morning with very different 
feelings from those I should have had if we had been together. 
. . . The last waggon load from Upcott came about an hour 
after me. . . . 

This place will be exceedingly pleasant in summer. It is 
now very cold with a frost and east wind. 

I have written to Gregory Watt* to send me a copying 
machine, that I may send duplicates by another packet, a 
precaution you must not forget. I will send you more copying 
paper. I shall curse the French if they take the packet bearing 
your first letter. How anxiously will it be expected, and with 
what emotion will it be opened and read. We must not expect 
to hear from you in less than four months. 

Very few of the letters I write afford me any pleasure, but I 

* Son of the great inventor. He was an affectionate friend of 
Tom and Josiah. Copying machines had lately been invented by 
James Watt. 


foresee a great pleasure in writing to you all that comes, and 
just as it comes. There is a pleasure in tender regret for the 
absence and misfortunes of a person one loves, and corresponding 
with that person is the complete fruition of it. I feel like 
JEneas clasping the shade of Creusa. I call up your image, 
but it is not substantial. 
Farewell, dear Tom. 

This letter was, so far as the existing Wedgwood 
papers show, a unique outpouring of feeling on the 
part of Josiah. The rest of his letters to his brother 
contain only hints of the sorrow stirred by the con- 
tinual spectacle of Tom's wrecked life, hardly ever an 
approach to an expression of his deeper feelings. He 
was inexpressive in writing as in speech, and his thus 
breaking through the habitual reserve of years shows 
how deeply touched he was at this critical moment. 
His feeling towards his brother was a mixture of com- 
passion, love and admiration. Tom was in truth the 
great passion of his life. 

Tom's letters from the West Indies contain little or 
nothing that is of extra-personal interest, but they 
have a pathetic significance as showing the depth of the 
affection which united him to his family, and the 
warmth of his gratitude for the never failing sympathy 
which his sad condition evoked from all his brothers 
and sisters. His first letter home is a sort of encyclical 
to the family circle. He seems to have shrunk from 
writing to any of them individually, feeling how much 
he owed to all. 


'Tom Wedgwood to his family 


April $th, 1800. 

[After referring to the voyage and the circumstances of his 
arrival]. I staid two days at Barbadoes and gained strength 
and spirits every moment. . . . The climate, the beauty of the 
trees and shrubs, the tout ensemble, astonished and delighted us 
all beyond our highest expectations. We came to this place 
on the 3rd and found a paradise. I have been for some days 
in a trance of enjoyment. I am perfectly at a loss how to 
convey an idea of the exquisite beauty of the scenery. . . . 
Reconvey me to-morrow by the same intolerable journey to 
Europe, and I must consider myself as repaid by what I have 
enjoyed, and by the materials I have laid in for future enjoy- 
ment. . . . The near scenery is exquisite, little vallies at the 
feet of mountains piled on each other in a noble succession, 
every tree new to the eye, many loaded with brilliant flowers 
and fruit. Another impression which has not abated is that of 
a desire to have this astonishing scene disclosed more gradually. 
The sight aches and the spirit sinks from unceasing excitement. 
The mind, too full, keeps longing for a moment's respite, for 
leisure to pursue the various channels, the little bye-streams of 
those rapid and full currents of thought which pass through it 
in all directions. 

But I will not exhaust myself nor run the risk of disgusting 
you, for you have not these scenes and feelings present to you 
to enable you to sympathise in my most imperfect efforts at 
expression. . . . 

To illustrate we got here in the dark. I rose first in the 
morning, put my head out of the window what a picture 
then lay before me ! I called to King and we actually em- 
braced each other. 

I gain strength very rapidly. ... If I had no indigestion 
and headache I should be in heaven. . . . 

I cannot send this off without offering with tears of the 


purest love and gratitude, a simple declaration. Believe me 
then, I am affected in the manner I ought to be by all your 
kindnesses to me. I know, too, that I must too often have 
seemed insensible to all their claims, but do not be deceived 
into this cruel opinion. The languor of illness and a conflict 
of uneasy sensations never blinded my observation, though it 
prevented any expression of sentiment. But I have placed to 
your credit a thousand tender services which your delicacy in 
vain attempted to conceal from me. Nothing has more deeply 
affected me than your mild forbearance with my petulancies 
and caprices. 

But I dare not now proceed in this subject. I dare not 
indulge in the luxury of those feelings which begin to intro- 
duce a disordered agitation. I must add however that I have 
above made a most unfeigned tender of sentiment to a very 
numerous band. Let no one who reads this imagine an exclu- 
sion. Certainly some individuals have sacrificed more largely 
to my health and comfort than others. But a single enquiry 
expressed with interest I always consider as an offer and 
earnest of a host of kind actions. . . . 

I cannot write another word. 


The exhilaration produced in presence of the glories 
of tropical scenery did not last long. He thinks at 
first that he is gaining strength, but that soon turns 
out to be an illusion ; the old pains and physical 
troubles reappear, and he begins to plan for his return, 
if there is no sign of real amendment. He tells next 
to nothing as to what he sees or does. Writing 
exhausts him, and he cannot waste his little strength 
upon describing incidents of travel. And there is 
hardly a word as to the social condition of the people 
about him, and not a word as to slaves or slave holding. 


This is singular when we remember the general set of 
his ideas, and that the agitation for abolishing the 
trade by which these islands were supplied with slaves 
had been going on for many years and all Wedg- 
woods were keen abolitionists. But the ceaseless 
struggle with bodily suffering absorbs him. He is 
continually speculating on future plans, and as he 
thinks of these he is always harassed by the thought 
that his own miseries are spoiling the lives of those 
who care for him. 

The following letter would seem to be his answer to 
that written by his brother after they parted. 

fom Wedgwood to his brother Josiah 


May I3//5, 1800. 

I cannot tell you the pleasure your letter gave me. It gave 
me an assurance of what my conscience and judgment bade me 
not to be too confident [of], your unabated esteem and affection. 
. . . Your most welcome assurance brought with it everything 
which was wanting to complete the charm of that intimate 
connection which has so long and so happily subsisted between 
us ... To the moment of our separation your tenderness 
and affection were continually on the increase ; I was only 
apprehensive that even your forbearance and pity might at 
length be fatigued by the importunate and dismal intercourse of 
a sick man. I have read your letter a dozen times over. It 
has inspired me with an increased craving after health. I long 
so ardently to contribute towards your happiness ... I cannot 
endure the idea of being a thorn in your side. 

You may judge how welcome your letter was to me when I 
tell you that I read the receipt to dress a pig three times, merely 
for the association with your hand-writing. You have never 


known to what a degree my attachment to you has long risen. 
When you are with me, I imagine myself an exile from home, 
longing, as I always do most burningly, for your society. I 
then exultingly bless myself that you are present to me. . . . 
You are my great repository, magazine, reservoir of agreeable 
associations and lively feelings. You are for ever present to 
my memory, and the chief consolation of absence and a most 
tedious illness. I often cannot help yielding to the illusion of 
our mutual affection being carried forward into a future and a 
better existence. . . . Whenever those separations which we 
both lament have been about to take place, I have always 
contrived to spend every moment which remained to me in 
your company. If you have been called from me for a few 
hours I feel as if robbed of some vital energy, &c. &c., for 
this strain is endless. Be for ever assured that you and your 
wife are objects of my most perfect love and esteem your 
children are most dear to me. Oh God ! that I had force to 
display my own character to act, in any degree, as I feel. I 
should not then be making professions. But I am so blasted 
by my cruel Fates, so crippled and cramped in every energy of 
mind and body, that with all those qualities for which you give 
me credit, I am absolutely inferior to the veriest imbecile that 
eats, drinks, and sleeps away life. But patience, patience I 
am determined to live as long as Nature permits, I must there- 
fore humbly submit and patiently bear the evils of existence 

My birds are singing on all sides of me oranges by thou- 
sands close to the house a supper on land-crabs in prospettc 
and yet I crave for that desart spot, dear, dear Gunville. 

His first letter home (supra, p. 89), had arrived in 
England about June 4. Part of its contents must have 
been communicated by Josiah to Coleridge, who writes 
as follows : 


S. < T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 


Thursday, June 12, 1800. 

Enclosed is 20 . . . 

I had heard such pleasing accounts of your dear brother, 
accounts exaggerated at second hand by the joy of the narrators, 
that T. Wedgwood's own statement came on me as a dis- 
appointment. Still, however, Broxham must have seen a great 
difference or he could not have written as he did. God in 
heaven bless him ! Your letter to me, that is, the account in 
your letter, made the tears roll down Poole's face. . . . 

Old Mrs. Poole is, I am afraid, dying. . . .* 

The doubts as to how Tom Wedgwood was faring 
were soon set at rest. Poole was surprised one evening 
at Stowey by receiving the following note : 

Tom Wedgwood to C T. Poole and S. T. Coleridge 


Tuesday, 6 (? clock. 

(Probably June 24, 1800.) 

It is with the utmost reluctance that I pass so near you 
without a personal salutation. Accept this, however, such as 
it is may it carry to Stowey as warm as it leaves my heart. 

You are no doubt much surprised at my return. I have 
soon convinced myself that a stay in the West Indies would 
not benefit my health for many reasons which I cannot now 

* The omitted sentences refer to Coleridge's fruitless house- 
hunting about Porlock, and to his intention to try for a house in 
the Lake country. 


enter upon. I am now hurrying to Cote, to inquire after my 
friends ; and my fatigue, joined to anxiety, prevents my making 
any round in my journey, or I would surely see you at Stowey. 
Let me hear from you. It will delight me to have a good 
account of you and yours, particularly your excellent mother. 

Ever yours most cordially, 


This must have been scribbled off while he was 
changing horses at Bridgewater on his way from Fal- 
mouth to Bristol. The meeting at Cote cannot have 
been a happy one. The West Indies scheme, planned 
with much thought and trouble, had failed. Yet he 
had moments when he could fancy himself really re- 
covering. Six weeks later we find him riding to 
London from Christchurch, where he had been staying 
with his brother Jos. 

Writing from a roadside inn he says (August 15, 

How often have I wished you jogging at my side, to enjoy 
what I have done, of air and scenery, and to witness and sym- 
pathise in my rapid progress in convalescence. But for the 
many cruel disappointments already experienced, I might now 
indulge a hope of regaining my lost health and strength. I 
dare not cherish the viper idea. If they are restored to me, 
God knows they will be welcome if not, I mean not to sink 
lower from disappointment. I rode 5 hours yesterday and have 
ridden, by n to-day, 28 miles without any fatigue. . . . Slept 
in an alehouse last night never lay better. Avoid great inns 
hot, dear, noisy. You'll hear of me by calling at the single 
houses, and in the " pleasant villages." . . . 
Believe me, 

le plus devout des tres humains, 

T. W. 



And this is followed by a light-hearted letter talking 
of prospective shooting in the New Forest, and matters 
incidental to starting life at Gunville. Possibly the 
sea voyages and the stay in the tropics had made him 
stronger for the time. During this autumn and the 
succeeding winter he had continual alternations of 
what seemed like recovery followed by heart-sickening 
relapses. It was apparently in the latter part of the 
year 1800 that he was making his photographic experi- 
ments, and there can be little doubt that the persistent 
recurrence of these periods of illness and suffering was 
what prevented his following up his discovery. The 
following extracts from letters of this time show his 
variable condition : 

'Tom Wedgwood to his brother Josiah 

27 August, 1800. 
[Travelling from London to Gunville.] 

I am gradually fallen these last few days into the status quo 
ante iter. Henceforth I never will entertain, or at least com- 
municate to others, these sanguine anticipations of returning 

Tom to Josiah and others at Gunvillc 


[Salisbury, November 12 or 13, 1800.] 

I cannot dismiss Samuel without a word to say that I am all 
the better for the ride hither. ... I will write on my arrival 
in town, and as soon after as I am encouraged to do so by any 
favourable change in my health. I am secure at least from dis- 
appointment, for I dare not cherish a hope on the subject. . . . 


Once more adieu ! It is in vain for me to repine at the cruel 
persecution which has soon again forced me from all I hold dear 
in life. In entering into new scenes I must strive to forget 
what I leave behind me. , 

Josiah Wedgwood to 'Tom Wedgwood 


November 13, 1800. 

... It is useless to repine, and your separation from us was 
evidently necessary, yet I cannot refrain from assuring you how 
heartily I sympathise with you. My heart is full, and if it 
would do either of us good I could cry like a child. But no 
more of this. . . . 

Josiah to 'Tom Wedgwood 


February 6, 1801. 

Your letter has excited the most painful feelings in my heart, 
and I know not what to write, for I have no other topic of con- 
solation than the truest affection and the warmest sympathy, 
and in your state of health and feeling that is nothing. . . . 
I cannot deny that every failure renders your situation more 
cheerless, but I cannot and will not give up my hopes that time 
will ameliorate your fate. ... I will not despair of a brother 
so dear to my heart. . . . 

Josiah to Tom Wedgwood 

i8/// February, 1801. 

... I do not know what to think about your design of stay- 
ing at home. ... I can conceive the efforts it must cost 
you to refrain from giving yourself up to languor and despond- 


ency. This consideration ought to reconcile you to the occa- 
sional uneasiness that may be excited by our observing your 

To a man in this condition any regular work was 
of course impossible ; and yet in the early part of this 
winter (1800-1801), he seems to have been able to see 
a great deal of society of a friendly kind. He set up 
a temporary abode in the building in York Street, 
St. James's Square, in which were the London show- 
rooms of the Etruria firm,* and there gave frequent 
bachelor parties. Among the relations and friends 
whom he was seeing at this time we find the names of 
Mackintosh (then making his way at the bar and living 
with his wife, Josiah's sister-in-law, in Serle Street, 
Lincoln's Inn), Godwin, Leslie, the brothers John and 
James Tobin, Gregory Watt (son of the great engineer), 
Richard (" Conversation ") Sharp, and many more. 
He was often, too, at a social club which had been 
founded by Mackintosh, and met at a tavern in the 
Strand. It had grown out of a dinner-party at 
Mackintosh's house, at which Sharp, " Bobus " Smith 
(brother of Sydney), Rogers, and John Allen of Cres- 
selly were present, and Bobus had christened it the 
" King of Clubs." Tom Campbell the poet describes 
it, perhaps a little too magnificently, as a " gathering- 
place of brilliant talkers, dedicated to the meetings 
of the reigning wits of London," and a " lineal 

* The building on the east side of the southern end of the street. 
It afterwards became a chapel. Mr. Stopford Brooke preached there 
for many years. 



descendant of the Johnson, Burke, and Goldsmith 
society." * 

About this time (November 1 800) an incident 
occurred which threatened to bring a cloud over the 
friendship between Poole and the Wedgwoods. This 
was what may be called a quasi-proposal of marriage 
made by Poole to Catharine Wedgwood, the elder of 
the two unmarried sisters. After a visit to Gunville 
he wrote to Josiah Wedgwood, saying : " I have ven- 
tured to write to Miss Wedgwood to request her to 
enter into a correspondence with me, by which she shall 
know me as I am." The correspondence, he explains, 
would be " merely a mutual communication of senti- 
ments on such subjects as may occur to us if you do 
not blame me you will be my friend, . . . and when I 
say this I address the same to Mr. T. Wedgwood, on 
whose unbounded affection shown to me I rely." This 
of course practically amounted to a proposal, though 
Poole seems to have persuaded himself it did not. 
Josiah, writing to Tom, who had left Gunville, de- 
scribes the answer he gave Poole as " friendly on my 
part, not uncivil, but peremptory on C.'s, and C.'s 

* By this he can only mean that it was a club of the old 
eighteenth-century type, like the one founded by Reynolds. The 
Johnsonian club exists still ; the "King of Clubs" lasted till 1824. 
Here is a glimpse of one of its meetings from a letter of T. W. to 
Jos. W., December 5, 1800 : "A very pleasant day on Saturday at 
the club. But it was rather noisy owing to some uproarious visitors, 
and, as Mackintosh says, afforded a very bad specimen of their 
meetings. I had a little conversation with Sharp, B. Smith, and 
Scarlett, but much less than I wished, my neighbour Pearson 
engrossed me too much. Among the members then or later were 
Lord Holland, Lord Lansdowne, Henry Brougham, Porson, Romilly, 
Dumont (of Geneva), Ricardo, and Hallam. 


refusal enforced by my approbation of its propriety." 
It does not appear that Catharine wrote herself to 
Poole. He having asked Josiah to help him, she would 
naturally be glad to leave to her brother the disagree- 
able task of sending an answer. 

Poole accepted the rebuff in the most angelic spirit. 
He explains, not very successfully, why he wrote as he 
did ; he cannot quite see why his request was unreason- 
able, but the answer is so decided that he takes it as 
absolutely final. " I was stunned by it, though I do 
not know why ; . . . I stood looking at it for an 
hour. ... I submit to it, and assure you, from 
its peremptory nature, that I am perfectly satisfied.'* 
The refusal, it is clear, was Miss Wedgwood's, not 
her brothers' doing. But it is also clear that Josiah 
and Tom took it ill that Poole should have ventured 
to think of marrying their sister. Josiah thought it 
necessary why, it is not easy to see to " enforce " 
her refusal by showing his approval of it. And Tom 
writes to him : " I am concerned and surprised at 
Poole's presumption." Tom, we may be sure, did 
not say anything like this to Poole himself (for Poole 
" heartily thanks him " for his letter on the subject) ; 
but why should he think it a c< presumption " ? Ac- 
cording to the ordinary ideas of social rank, there 
was no such immense gap between Poole and the 
Wedgwoods, sons and daughters of a man who had 
started from a very modest position. Poole puts it 
fairly when he says : " I knew that Miss W. was 
among the heads of the class of society in which I filled 
a middle station." If the brothers objected to the 
courtship on the ground of difference of social rank 


it was an odd attitude to be taken up by philosophical 
radicals bound by their creed to despise all such con- 
ventional prejudices. But we need not attribute their 
surprise and displeasure to what we now call "snobbism." 
Another explanation is quite simple. All the accounts 
of Poole represent him as a man of a decidedly rough 
type. He was a farmer and a tanner, and had the 
manners of his class, though far above it, and above most 
men of any class, in knowledge and intelligence. One 
of his relatives in a younger generation tells us (T. P. 
ii. 312) that " his clownish exterior, and rough, im- 
perious manner, with his very disagreeable voice, spoilt 
by snuff, made a strange contrast with his great mental 
cultivation and excess in sensibility and tenderness of 
heart. I suppose," she adds, "in his republican 
days he cultivated clownishness just as he left off 
powder." This helps us to understand how Kitty was 
quite decided against marrying him, and how her 
brothers thought it out of the question. The letters 
show he was not all surprised at their attitude. 
" Though," he says, " I have not lost your friendship, 
I cannot but be apprehensive that your affection for me 
may be diminished by an action which you must with- 
out doubt consider as a witless presumption" This 
apprehension weighed much upon his mind, but the 
attachment between him and them does not appear to 
have been sensibly lessened ; though, naturally, there 
remained for a time a certain awkwardness. This 
appears when there is a question of his meeting Kitty 
at Gunville a year or so later. His letters on the sub- 
ject are excellent in taste, tone, and temper ; his 


language is somewhat apologetic, perhaps a little too 
argumentative, modest, and yet dignified.^ 

* Had Poole's overture led to a marriage, it would have been a 
suitable one as regards ages. Poole was then thirty-five and Kitty 
twenty-six. She was rich, but he was not poor. He was sufficiently 
well off to be able to lead a life of leisure if he chose. There is 
an interesting comment on the incident in a letter written nearly 
half a century later by Fanny Allen, sister of Mrs. John and Mrs. 
Josiah Wedgwood, who was at this time a girl of eighteen. " I have 
been deep in the letters of the family for these ten days. Poor 
Tom's letters are very melancholy and touching, and some of Jos's 
answers very beautiful. What two men they were ! . . . Tom 
Poole's letters are interesting ; I never cease regretting that Kitty 
did not accept him. How different would have been her life to 
that absurd and ridiculous attachment which bound her to Miss 

M . Among the mass of letters his are among the most 

affectionate, and from the most healthful mind." (F. Allen to S. E. 
Wedgwood, daughter of Josiah, October 3, 1847 Darwin MSS.) 

Miss M was a philanthropical lady of advanced views, an early 

specimen of the "strong-minded" type. Fanny Allen was a clever 
and capable old lady, but perhaps it should be added that she was an 
inveterate match-maker, and so would be inclined, a priori, to take 
the Poole side in the matter. Kitty Wedgwood died, unmarried, in 
the year 1823. Family tradition represents her as an interesting 
and able woman. She had the family taciturnity. Bessy Wedg- 
wood (Mrs. Josiah) says, " the more I know her, the more I admire 
her character." Dr. Robert Darwin, her brother-in-law, used to 
say of her that she was the only woman he ever knew who thought 
for herself in matters of religion. 



1800 1802 

IT was in July 1800 that Coleridge made his move to 
Keswick, which became for a time his settled home, 
and for the rest of this year he and the Wedgwoods 
seem not to have met. His letters to Josiah during 
this time include but slight references to Tom Wedg- 
wood, but are interesting in other ways. 

S. T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 

Thursday, July 24, 1800. 


I found your letter on my arrival at Grasmere, namely, on 
June 29, since which time to the present, with the exception 
of the last few days, I have been more unwell than I have ever 
been since I left school. For many days I was forced to keep 
my bed, and when released from that worst incarceration, I 
suffered most grievously from a brace of swollen Eyelids, and 
a head into which on the least agitation the blood felt as rushing 
in and flowing back again like the raking of the Tide on a 
coast of loose stones. However, thank God ! I am now coming 
about again. 

That Tom receives such pleasure from natural scenery 
strikes me as it does you ; the total incapability which I have 
found in myself to associate any but the most languid feelings 


with the God-like objects which have surrounded me lately, 
and the nauseous efforts to impress my admiration into the 
service of nature, has given me a sympathy with his former 
state of health which I never before could have had. I wish 
from the bottom of my soul that he may be enjoying similar 
pleasures with those which I am now enjoying with all that 
newness of sensation, that voluptuous correspondence of the 
blood and flesh about me with breeze and sun-heat, which 
makes convalescence more than repay me for disease. 

I parted from Poole with pain and dejection. For him and 
for myself in him. I should have given Stowey a decisive 
preference ; it was likewise so conveniently situated that I was 
in the way of almost all whom I love and esteem. But there 
was no suitable house, and no prospect of a suitable house. 
Add to this Poole's determination to spend a year or two on 
the continent in case of a peace and his mother's death. God 
in heaven bless her ! I am sure she will not live long. 

This is the first day of my arrival at Keswick. My house 
is roomy, situated on an eminence a furlong from the Town ; 
before it an enormous Garden, more than two-thirds of which 
is rented as a garden for sale articles, but the walks, &c., are 
ours most completely. Behind the house are shrubberies, and 
a declivity planted with flourishing trees of 15 years' growth or 
so, at the bottom of which is a most delightful shaded walk by 
the River Greta, a quarter of a mile in length. The room in 
which I sit commands from one window the Bassenthwaite 
Lake, woods, and mountains ; from the opposite, the Derwent- 
water and fantastic mountains of Borrowdale ; and straight 
before me is a wilderness of mountains, catching and streaming 
lights or shadows at all times. Behind the house and entering 
into all our views is Skiddaw. 

My acquaintance here are pleasant, and at some distance is 
Sir Guilfrid Lawson's seat with a very large and expensive 
library, to which I have every reason to hope that I shall have 
free access. But when I have been settled here a few days 
longer, I will write you a minute account of my situation. 


Wordsworth lives 12 miles distant ; in about a year's time he 
will probably settle at Keswick likewise. It is no small advan- 
tage here that for two-thirds of the year we are in complete 
retirement. The other third is alive and swarms with Tourists 
of all shapes and sizes and characters. It is the very place I 
would recommend to a novellist or farce-writer. Besides, at 
that time of the year there is always hope that a friend may 
be among the number, and miscellaneous crowd, whom this 
place attracts. So much for Keswick at present. 

Have you seen my translation of the Wallenstein ? It is a 
dull heavy play ; but I entertain hopes, that you will think the 
language for the greater part natural and good common-sense 
English ; to which excellence if I can lay fair claim in any 
work of poetry or prose, I shall be a very singular writer at 
least. I am now working at my introduction to the life of 
Lessing, which I trust will be in the press before Christmas ; 
that is, the Introduction, which will be published first, I 
believe. I shall write again in a few days. Respects to Mrs. 
W. God bless you and 


S. < T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 


November i, 1800. 


I would fain believe that the experiment which your Brother 
has made in the West Indies is not wholly a discouraging one. If 
a warm climate did nothing but only prevented him from getting 
worse, it surely evidenced some power ; and perhaps a climate 
equally favourable in a country of more various interest, Italy 
or the South of France, may tempt your Brother to make a 
longer trial. If (disciplining myself into silent chearfulness) I 
could be of any comfort to him by being his companion and 
attendant for two or three months, on the supposition that he 
should wish to travel and was at a loss for a companion more 


fit, I would go with him with a willing affection. You will 
easily see, my dear friend, that I say this only to increase the 
range of your Brother's choice for even in chusing there is some 

There happen frequently little odd coincidences in time, that 
recall momentary faith in the notion of sympathies acting in 
absence. I heard of your Brother's Return, for the first time, 
on Monday last (the day on which your letter is dated) from 
Stoddart. Had it rained on my naked skin I could not have 
felt more sfrangely. The three or 400 miles that are between 
us seemed converted into a moral distance ; and I knew that 
the whole of this silence I was myself accountable for ; for I 
ended my last letter by promising to follow it with a second and 
longer one before you could answer the first. But immediately 
on my arrival in this country I undertook to finish a poem which 
I had begun, entitled " Christabel," for a second volume of the 
Lyrical Ballads. I tried to perform my promise ; but the deep un- 
utterable Disgust which I had suffered in the translation of that 
accursed Wallenstein seemed to have stricken me with barrenness; 
for I tried and tried, and nothing would come of it. I desisted 
with a deeper dejection than I am willing to remember. The 
wind from Skiddaw and Borrowdale was often as loud as 
wind need be ; and many a walk in the clouds on the moun- 
tains did I take ; but all would not do, till one day I dined out 
at the house of a neighbouring clergyman and somehow or 
other drank so much wine, that I found some effort and dexterity 
requisite to balance myself on the hither edge of sobriety. The 
next day my verse-making faculties returned to me, and I pro- 
ceeded successfully ; till my poem grew so long and in Words- 
worth's opinion so impressive, that he rejected it from his 
volume as disproportionate both in size and merit, and as dis- 
cordant in its character.* In the mean time I had gotten 

* " Christabel " was first printed, unfinished (Parts I and 2 only), 
in 1816. All his life, at intervals, Coleridge talked or dreamed 
about completing it. Mr. Dykes Campbell, in a note of four pages 
("Poetical Works," 60 1, sqq.}, brings together, with a fulness of 


myself entangled in the old Sorites of the old Sophist, Procrasti- 
nation. I had suffered my necessary businesses to accumulate 
so terribly, that I neglected to write to any one, till the Pain I 
suffered from not writing made me waste as many hours in 
dreaming about it as would have sufficed for the Letter-writing 
of half a life. But there is something beside Time requisite 
for the writing of a Letter, at least with me. My situation here 
is indeed a delightful situation ; but I feel what I have lost 
feel it deeply ; it recurs more often and more painfully than I 
had anticipated ; indeed, so much so that I scarcely ever feel 
myself impelled, that is to say, pleasurably impelled to write to 
Poole. I used to feel myself more at home in his great windy 
Parlour than in my own cottage. We were well suited to each 
other my animal spirits corrected his inclinations to melan- 
choly ; and there was something both in his understanding and 
in his affections so healthy and manly, that my mind freshened 
in his company, and my ideas and habits of thinking acquired 
day after day more of substance and reality. Indeed, indeed, 
my dear sir, with tears in my eyes, with all my heart and soul 
I wish it were as easy for us to meet as it was when you lived 
at Upcott. Yet when I revise the step I have taken, I know 
not how I could have acted otherwise than I did. Everything 
I promise myself in this country has answered far beyond my 
expectations. The room in which I write commands six dis- 
tinct Landscapes; the two Lakes, the Vale, the River, and 
Mountains, and Mists, and Clouds and Sunshine, make endless 
combinations, as if heaven and earth were for ever talking to 
each other. Often when in a deep study, I have walked to 
the window and remained there looking without seeing ; all at once 

knowledge which was all his own, a mass of particulars as to the 
wonderful poem, and much that was said and written by Coleridge 
on the subject, including a " final utterance " quoted from Table 
Talk under date July 1833 : u The reason for my not finishing 
' Christabel ' is not that I don't know how to do it for I have, 
as I always had, the whole plan entire from beginning to end in my 
mind ; but I fear I could not carry on with equal success the execu- 
tion of the idea, an extremely subtle and difficult one." 


the lake of Keswick and the fantastic mountains of Borrowdale 
at the head of it have entered into my mind with a suddenness 
as if I had been snatched out of Cheapside and placed for the 
first time on the spot where I stood ; and that is a delightful 
feeling, these Fits and Trances of Novelty received from a long 
known Object. The river Greta flows behind our house, roar- 
ing like an untamed son of the Hills ; then winds round and 
glides away in the front, so that we live in a peninsula. But 
besides this etherial eye feeding, we have very substantial con- 
veniences. We are close to the town, where we have respect- 
able and neighbourly acquaintance, and a sensible and truly 
excellent medical man. Our garden is part of a large nursery 
garden, which is the same to us and as private as if the whole 
had been our own ; in this too we have delightful walks without 
passing our garden gate. My landlord, who lives in the Sister 
House (for the two Houses are built so as to look like one great 
one), is a modest and kind man, of a singular character. By 
the severest economy he has raised himself from a carrier into 
the possession of a comfortable independence. He was always 
very fond of reading, and has collected nearly 500 volumes, of 
our most esteemed modern writers, such as Gibbon, Hume, 
Johnson, &c. &c. His habits of economy and simplicity remain 
with him, and yet so very disinterested a man I scarcely ever 
knew. Lately, when I wished to settle with him about the 
Rent of our House, he appeared much affected, told me that my 
living near him, and the having so much of Hartley's* company 
were so great comforts to him and his housekeeper, that he had 
no children to provide for, and did not mean to marry ; and in 
short, that he did not want any rent at all from me. This of course 
I laughed him out of; but he absolutely refused to receive any 
rent for the first half-year, under the pretext that the house was 
not completely furnished. Hartley quite lives at the house, and 
it is as you may suppose, no small joy to my wife to have a 

* His eldest boy, now four years old. All accounts represent him 
as a singularly charming child. 


good affectionate motherly woman divided from her only by a wall. 
Eighteen miles from our house lives Sir Guilfrid Lawson, who 
has a princely library, chiefly of Natural History, a kind and 
generous, but weak and ostentatious sort of man, who has been 
abundantly civil to me. Among other raree shows, he keeps a 
wild beast or two, with some eagles, &c. The master of the 
beasts at the Exeter 'Change, sent him down a large Bear 
with it a long letter of directions concerning the food, &c., of 
the animal, and many solicitations respecting other agreeable 
Quadrupeds which he was desirous to send the Baronet at a 
moderate price, concluding in this manner: "And remain your 
honour's most devoted humble servant, J.P. Permit me, Sir 
Guilfrid, to send you a Buffalo and a Rhinoceros." As neat a 
postscript as I ever heard the tradesmanlike coolness with which 
these pretty little animals occurred to him just at the finishing 
of his letter ! ! You will in the course of three weeks see the 
Letters on the rise and condition of the German Boors. I found 
it convenient to make up a volume out of my journeys, &c., in 
North Germany; and the Letters (your name of course erased) 
are in the Printer's Hands. I was so weary of transcribing and 
composing^ that when I found those more carefully written than 
the rest, I even sent them off as they were. 

Poor Alfred ! I have not seen it in print. Charles Lamb 
wrote me the following account of it : " I have just received 
from Cottle a magnificent Copy of his Guinea Alfred ! Four 
and 20 books, to read in the Dog Days. I got as far as the 
mad monk the first day, and fainted. Mr. Cottle's Genius 
strongly points him to the very simple Pastoral^ but his inclina- 
tions divert him perpetually from his calling. He imitates 
Southey as Rowe did Shakespeare, with his * Good morrow to 
you, good Master Lieutenant ! ' Instead of c a man,' a woman/ 
' a daughter,' he constantly writes ' one, a man,' < one, a woman/ 
* one, his daughter ' ; instead of ' the King,' * the Hero,' he 
constantly writes " He, the King,' ' He, the Hero ' two 
flowers of rhetoric palpably from the Joan. But Mr. Cottle 
soars a higher pitch, and when he is original, it is in a most 


original way indeed. His terrific scenes are indefatigable. 
Serpents, Asps, Spiders, Ghosts, Dead Bodies, and Staircases 
made of NOTHING, with Adders' Tongues for Bannisters 
my God ! what a Brain he must have ! he puts as many Plums 
in his Pudding as my Grandmother used to do ; and then his 
emerging from Hell's Horrors into Light, and Treading of this 
Earth for 23 Books together ! C. L." 

My littlest one is a very stout boy indeed : he is christened 
by the name of " Derwent" a sort of sneaking affection, you 
see, for the poetical and the novellish which I disguise to 
myself under the show that my Brothers had so many Children, 
John's, James', George's, &c. &c., that a handsome Christian- 
like name was not to be had except by encroaching on the 
names of my little Nephews. If you are at Gunville at 
Christmas, I hold out hopes to myself that I shall be able to 
pass a week with you then. I mentioned to you at Upcott a 
kind of comedy that I had committed to writing, in part. 
This is in the wind. 

Wordsworth's second volume of the Ly. Ball, will, I hope 
and almost believe, afford you as unmingled pleasure as is in 
the nature of a collection of very various poems to afford to one 
individual mind. Sheridan has sent to him too, requesting him 
to write a tragedy for Drury Lane. But W. will not be 
diverted by anything from the prosecution of his great work. 

I shall request permission to draw upon you shortly for 20^ ; 
but if it be in the least inconvenient to you, I pray you, tell me 
so ; for I can draw on Longman, who in less than a month will 
owe me 6o., though I would rather not do it. 

Southey's Thalaba, in twelve books, is going to the Press. 
I hear his Madoc is to be nonum-in-annum'd. Besides these, I 
have heard of four other Epic Poems all in Quarto ! A 
happy age this for tossing off an Epic or two ! 

Remember me with great affection to your Brother; and 
present my kindest respects to Mrs. Wedgewood. Your late 
Governess wanted one thing which, where there is health, is 
I think indispensable to the moral character of a young person, 


a light and cheerful Heart. She interested me a good deal ; 
she appears to me to have been injured by going out of the 
common way without any of that imagination, which, if it be 
a Jack O' Lan thorn to lead us out of that way, is however at 
the same time a Torch to light us whither we are going. 

A whole essay might be written on the danger of thinking 
without Images. God bless you, my dear sir, and him who is 
with grateful and affectionate esteem, 

Yours ever, 


S. < T. Coleridge to Josiah Wedgwood 

November 12, 1800. 

[Postmark : KESWICK.] 

I received your kind letter, with the 20^. My eyes are in 
such a state of inflammation that I might as well write blind- 
fold ; they are so blood-red that I should make a very good 
personification of Murder. I have had Leaches twice, and 
have now a blister behind my right Ear. How I caught the 
cold, in the first instance, I can scarcely guess ; but I improved 
it to its present glorious state by taking long walks all the 
mornings, spite of the wind, and writing late at night, while 
my eyes were weak. 

I have made some rather curious observations on the rising 
up of Spectra in the eye, in its inflamed state, and their influence 
on Ideas, &c., but I cannot see to make myself intelligible to 
you. Present my kindest remembrance to Mrs. W. and your 
brother. Pray did you ever pay any particular attention to the 
first time of your little ones smiling and laughing ? Both I 
and Mrs. C. have carefully watched our little one, and noted 
down all the circumstances, &c., under which he smiled, and 
under which he laughed, for the first six times ; nor have we 
remitted our attention ; but I have not been able to derive the 
least confirmation of Hartley's or Darwin's Theory. 


You say most truly, my dear sir, that a Pursuit is necessary. 
Pursuit, I say, for even praiseworthy Employment, merely for 
good, or general good, is not sufficient for happiness, is not fit 
for man. 

God bless you, my dear sir, and your sincerely affectionate 


P.S. I cannot at present make out how I stand in pecuniary 
way ; but I believe that I have anticipated on the next year 
to the amount of 30 or 40 pound, probably more. 

A main interest of Tom Wedgwood's life was 
metaphysical and psychological speculation, and he 
seems to have been specially occupied with these sub- 
jects in the year 1801. In March of that year he is 
described as deep in " Time, Space, and Motion," and 
later he was discussing his theories with Mackintosh 
and making apparently some kind of effort to put them 
in a definite shape. Of this there will be more to be 
said in a later chapter. For the rest, his life in this 
and the succeeding years might be described in words 
we find him using to Poole : " I am just the same as 
last Christmas, eternally racking my brains for some 
plausible scheme of action, and subject every day to fits 
of the greatest despondency." The " plausible schemes 
of action " at home alternated with plans of travel 
abroad which were equally failures. In July 1801, for 
example, he crosses the Channel to begin a tour, but a 
few weeks later he is feeling too depressed to go on, 
and flies back to England. Again, in May 1 802, he 
has been consulting Cline, with no effective result ; he 
has a "loathing of going abroad," but is "unable to 


come to any practicable scheme of living in England." 
He starts off on a tour which is to take him to Vienna 
and then to Italy for the winter. At Paris he has a 
pleasant time with Sharp and other friends. He 
spends hours daily among the ancient marbles in the 
Louvre, is enthusiastic about " a new Diana supposed 
to be by the same hand as the Belvedere Apollo," and 
about a young French Sculptor whose " manner is very 
much that of Michael Angelo." Also he has dis- 
covered, after infinite trouble, a delightful travelling 
companion, a young musical composer, Acerbi. Then 
comes the inevitable breakdown. " My strength and 
spirits have entirely failed me, and I am forced home 
by the same demon that drove me thence." * 

A month or two later he is going to take a farm in 
hand, near Gunville, and work it through a factotum, 
" so that I shall have something going on about me. I 
shall fit up a good room, . . . shall perhaps place 
some companionable musical person there, and so spend 
many hours a day with him. . . . But this is all a new 
scheme, and judging of it by its predecessors, will be 
extinct before this letter reaches you at Geneva." t 

The time of closest intimacy between Tom Wedg- 
wood and Coleridge was the latter part of this year, 
1802. They were together continuously for more than 
two months. It was a sad time in the life of Cole- 
ridge. His estrangement from his wife was increasing, 

* To Poole, June 27, 1802. 
t To Poole, August 29, 1802. 




and so was his habit of opium-eating, which was to 
bring him in a few years to that state which he himself 
described as a " pitiable slavery." This had begun, 
apparently, about a year earlier, and it was as yet hardly 
known to his most intimate friends. The Words- 
worths seem not to have been yet aware of it. To this 
there is no open reference in his letters to the Wedg- 
woods ; of the home trouble there is, alas ! too much. 
The following letter would appear to refer to 
one from Wedgwood mooting some scheme for their 
travelling together. Such schemes, and the ceaseless 
search for a companion for the sick man in his 
wanderings, make up a great part of the Wedgwood 

S. C T. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 



October 20, 1802. 

This is my birthday, my thirtieth. It will not appear 
wonderful to you therefore, when I tell you that before the 
arrival of your letter I had been thinking with a great weight 
of different feelings concerning you and your dear Brother. 
For I have good reason to believe that I should not now have 
been alive, if in addition to other miseries I had had immediate 
poverty pressing upon me. I will never again remain silent so 
long. It has not been altogether Indolence or my habit or 
Procrastination which have kept me from writing, but an eager 
wish, I may truly say a Thirst of Spirit, to have something 
honourable to tell you of myself. At present I must be con- 
tent to tell you something cheerful. My Health is very much 
better. I am stronger in every respect, and am not injured by 
study or the act of sitting at my writing Desk. But my eyes 



suffer if at any time I have been intemperate in the use 'of 
Candle light. This account supposes another, namely, that my 
mind is calm, and more at ease. My dear sir, when I was last 
with you at Stowey, my heart was often full, and I could 
scarcely keep from communicating to you the tale of my dis- 
tresses, but how could I add to your depression, when you were 
low ? Or how interrupt, or cast a shade on your good spirits, 
that were so rare and so precious to you ? I found no comfort 
except in the driest speculations. In the Ode to Dejection* 
which you were pleased with, these lines, in the original, 
followed the line " My shaping spirit of Imagination : " 

" For not to think of what I needs must feel, 
But to be still and patient, all I can, 
And haply by abstruse Research to steal 
From my own Nature all the natural man 

* "Dejection, an Ode," was printed in the Morning Post of 

October 4, 1802, where probably Wedgwood had just seen it. It 

was written in the previous April. The passage referred to runs as 
follows : 

There was a time when, though my path was rough, 
This joy within me dallied with distress, 
And all misfortunes were but as the stuff 
Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness ; 
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine, 
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine. 
But now afflictions bow me down to earth ; 
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth ; 

But oh ! each visitation 
Suspends what Nature gave me at my birth 
My shaping spirit of Imagination. 
For not to think of what I needs must feel, &c. 

" No sadder cry from the depths," says Mr. Dykes Campbell, 
" was ever uttered, even by Coleridge. Health was gone, and with 
it both the natural joy which had been his in rich abundance, and 
that rarer kind which, as he tells us, dwells only with the pure. 
Nor was this all, for he discovered that he had lost control of his 
most precious endowment, his ' shaping spirit of imagination.' He 
felt that poetically he was dead, and that if not dead spiritually, he 
had lost his spiritual identity." 


This was my sole resource, my only plan, 

And that which suits a part infects the whole, 

And now is almost grown the Temper* of my soul." 

I give you these lines for the spirit and not for the poetry .t 

But better days are arrived, and are still to come. I have 
had visitations of Hope, that I may yet be something of which 
those who love me may be proud. 

I cannot write that without recalling dear Poole. I have 
heard twice, and written twice, and I fear that by a strange 
fatality, one of the Letters will have missed him. Leslie was 
here some time ago. I was very much pleased with him. 

And now I will tell you what I am doing. I dedicate three 
days in the week to the Morning Post, and shall hereafter write, 
for the far greater part, such things only as will be of as per- 
manent interest as anything I can hope to write ; and you will 
shortly see a little Essay of mine justifying the writing in a 

My comparison of the French with the Roman Empire was 
very favourably received. The Poetry which I have sent has 
been merely the emptying out of my Desk. The Epigrams 
are wretched indeed, but they answered Stuart's purpose better 
than better things. I ought not to have given any signature 
to them whatsoever. I never dreamt of acknowledging either 
them or the " Ode to the Rain.'* As to feeble expressions and 
unpolished lines, there is the rub ! Indeed, my dear sir, I do 
value your opinion very highly. I should think your judgment 
on the sentiment, the imagery, the flow of a poem decisive ; at 
least if it differed from my own, and after frequent considera- 

* Mr. Dykes Campbell, quoting this letter (" Poetical Works," 
p. 628), gives this word as " temple," misled, apparently, by one of 
Cottle's silly alterations of what Coleridge wrote. In his print of 
the poem (founded on the issue of 1829), it appears as "habit." 

t Here follows an outpour on the subject of his home troubles. 


tion mine remained different, it would leave me at least 
perplexed. For you are a perfect electrometer in these things ; 
but in point of poetic diction, i am not so well satisfied that 
you do not require a certain aloofness from the language of real 
life, which I think deadly to poetry. 

Very shortly, however, I shall present you from the Press 
with my opinions in full on the subject of Style both in prose 
and verse ; and I am confident of one thing, that I shall con- 
vince you that I have thought much and patiently on the 
subject and that I understand the whole strength of my 
Antagonist's Cause. For I am now busy on the subject, and 
shall in a very few weeks go to Press with a volume on the 
prose writings of Hall, Milton and Taylor ; and shall immedi- 
ately follow it up with an Essay on the writings of Dr. Johnson 
and Gibbon. And in these two volumes I flatter myself I shall 
present a fair History of English Prose.* If my life and health 
remain, and I do but write half as much and as regularly as I 
have done during the last six weeks, these will be finished by 
January next ; and I shall then put together my memorandum 
book on the subject of Poetry. In both I have endeavoured 
sedulously to state the Facts and the Differences clearly and 
acutely ; and my reasons for the preference of one style and 
another are secondary to this. Of this be assured, that I will 
never give anything to the world in propria persona, in my 
own name, which I have not tormented with the File. I 
sometimes suspect that my foul copy would often appear to 
general readers more polished than my fair copy. Many of the 
feeble and colloquial expressions have been industriously sub- 
stituted for others which struck me as artificial, and not standing 
the test ; as being neither the language of passion, nor distinct 

* All this, and what follows, as to literary work must be treated as 
merely visionary. Confusion between things done and things which 
he dreamed of doing was habitual with Coleridge. He " spawned 
plans like a herring," as Southey tells him in a letter of about this 
time (Southey's "Life," ii. 190). See D.C. p. 251, on such visions. 


Dear sir, indulge me with looking still further on to my 
literary life. I have since my twentieth year meditated an 
heroic poem on the Siege of Jerusalem by Titus. This is the 
Pride and the Stronghold of my Hope. But I never think of 
it except in my best moods. The work, to which I dedicate 
the ensuing years of my life, is one which highly pleased Leslie 
in prospective, and my paper will not let me prattle to you 
about it. I have written what you most wished me to write, 
all about myself. 

Our climate is inclement, and our houses not as compact as 
they might be ; but it is a stirring climate, and the worse the 
weather, the more unceasingly entertaining are my Study 
Windows ; and the month that is to come is the Glory of the 
year with us. A very warm Bedroom I can promise you, and 
one that at the same time commands our finest Lake and 
Mountain view. If Leslie could not go abroad with you, and 
I could in any way mould my manners and habits to suit you, 
I should of all things like to be your companion. Good nature, 
an affectionate disposition, and so thorough a sympathy with 
the nature of your complaint that I should feel no pain, not the 
most momentary, at being told by you what your feelings 
required at the time in which they required it this I should 
bring with me. But I need not say that you may say to me, 
" You don't suit me," without inflicting the least mortification. 
Of course this letter is for your Brother as for you ; but I shall 
write to him soon. God bless you, and 


In answer to this letter Tom Wedgwood must have 
replied by a proposal that Coleridge should at once 
join him, doubtless at Bristol. 

Coleridge is evidently ready, if not anxious, to leave 
his home, and he writes as if he thought his absence 
would be a long one. 


S. 'T. Coleridge to ^Tom Wedgwood 


Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1802. 

It is now two hours since I received your letter ; and after 
the necessary consultation, Mrs. Coleridge herself is fully of 
opinion that to lose Time is merely to lose Spirits. Accord- 
ingly, I have resolved not to look the children in the Face 
(the parting from whom -is the only downright Bitter in the 
thing), but to take a chaise to morning morning, half past four 
for Penrith, and go to London by to-morrow's Mail. Of 
course I shall be in London (God permitting) on Saturday 
morning. I shall rest that day, and the next, and proceed to 
Bristol by the Monday night's mail. At Bristol I will go to 
Cote, and there wait your coming. If the family be not at 
home, I shall beg a Bed at Dr. Beddoes's, or at least leave word 
where I am. At all events, barring serious Illness, serious 
Fractures, and the et cetera of serious Unforeseen;, I shall be at 
Bristol, Tuesday, Noon, Nov. gth. 

You are aware, that my whole knowledge of French does 
not extend beyond the power of limping slowly, not without a 
Dictionary Crutch, thro' an easy French Book : and that as 
to Pronunciation, all my Organs of Speech, from the bottom 
of the Larynx to the Edge of my Lips, are utterly and naturally 
Anti-gallican. If only I shall have been any Comfort, any 
Alleviation to you, I shall feel myself at ease ; and whether 
you go abroad or no, while I remain with you, it will greatly 
contribute to my comfort, if I know you will have no hesitation, 
nor pain, in telling me what you wish me to do or not to do. 

I regard it among the Blessings of my Life, that I have 
never lived among men whom I regarded as my artificial 
superiors : that all the respect I have at any time paid has 
been wholly to supposed Goodness, or Talent. The con- 
sequence has been that I have no alarms of Pride ; no cheval 
de frise of Independence. I have always lived among equals. 


It never occurs to me, even for a moment, that I am otherwise. 
If I have quarrelled with men, it has been as Brothers or School- 
fellows quarrel. How little any man can give me, or take 
from me, save in matters of kindness and esteem, is not so 
much a Thought, or Conviction with me, or even a distinct 
Feeling, as it is my very Nature. Much as I dislike all formal 
Declarations of this kind, I have deemed it well to say this. I 
have as strong feelings of Gratitude as any man. Shame upon 
me, if in the sickness and the sorrow which I have had, and 
which have been kept unaggravated and supportable by your 
kindness and your Brother's shame upon me if I did not feel 
a kindness, not unmixed with reverence, towards you both. 
But yet I never should have had my present Impulses to be 
with you, and this confidence that I may become an occa- 
sional comfort to you, if independently of all gratitude, I did not 
thoroughly esteem you ; and if I did not appear to myself to 
understand the nature of your sufferings ; and within the last 
year, in some slight degree to have felt, myself, something of 
the same. 

Forgive me, my dear sir, if I have said too much. It is 
better to write it than to say it ; and I am anxious in the 
event of our travelling together that you should yourself be at 
ease with me, even as you would with a younger Brother, to 
whom from his childhood you had been in the habit of saying, 
" Do this, Col." or "don't do that." 

I have been writing fast, lest I should be too late for the 
Post, forgetting that I am myself going with the Mail, and of 
course had better send the letter from London with the 
intelligence of my safe arrival there. Till then, all good be 

with us. 


Penrith, Thursday morning. 

If this letter reaches you without any further writing, you 
will understand by it that all the places in the Mail are engaged, 
and that I must wait a day but this will make no difference 
in my arrival at Bristol. 




THE two friends had made plans, apparently, for a 
journey on the Continent, but these were adjourned. 
Tom Wedgwood's schemes varied from day to day, 
and the project of the moment was a tour in South 

'Tom Wedgwood to 'Tom Poole * 


Nov. ii, 1802. 

I received yours from Paris a day or two since. It is in 
vain for me to seek for expressions to convey what I feel and 
have long felt towards you for your unwearied attentions to 
my comfort. Once for all, be assured that I am as much alive 
to services like yours as human being can be. 

I am now on my road to Cote House, where Coleridge, who 
is like another comforting spirit to me, gives me the meeting 
from the Bath. We then proceed to South Wales, where I shall 
shoot for a fortnight or so, having sent a man and seven dogs 
before me. Our plan is then to come and see how comfortable 
we can make ourselves in your new house at Stowey. 
* * * * * 

For about three weeks, I was much better and stronger than I 
* Wedgwood MSS., one of many letters given to Josiah by Poole. 


have been for some years and infinitely more cheerful. I 
seconded this kindly effort of Nature by every possible exertion 
of my own I lived in the fields shooting, walking, &c. I 
took a farm and wholly abandoned myself to active and cheer- 
ful prospects. In the midst of this occupation, as if by some 
vile incantation, I was without warning suddenly tumbled into 
the lowest condition, and left to contemplate the ruin of all 
my projects like the visions of a dream so completely possessed 
by languor and despondency that I was unable even to conceive 
how it can ever have entered into my existence to cherish the 
views and feelings which had so recently made up my whole 
being. I am now a little recovered, but my mind is still shaken 
and sore from its fall. Pray write to me at Cote House and 
believe me ever most faithfully Yours, 

T. W. 

The journey into South Wales was mainly a visit to 
Cresselly, the country house of John Bartlett Allen, 
father of Tom's two sisters-in-law, Jane and Elizabeth 
Wedgwood. On the way thither, Coleridge writes 
thus to his wife : 

S. T. Coleridge to his Wife 


1 6 Nov. 1802. 



The inn, the Blue Boar y is the most comfortable little public 
house I was ever in, Miss S. Wedgwood (Tom's youngest sister) 
left us this morning for Cresselly, Mr. Allen's seat (the Miss 
Wedgwood's father), fifteen miles from this place, and T. 
Wedgwood is gone out cock-shooting, in high glee and spirits. 
He is very much better than I expected to have found him ; 
he says the thought of my coming, and my really coming so 
immediately, has sent a new life into him. He will be out all 
the mornings. The evenings we chat, discuss, or I read to 


him. To me he is a delightful and instructive companion. 
He possesses the finest, the subtlest mind and taste I have ever 
yet met with. His mind resembles that miniature in my 
"Three Graves": 

A small blue sun ! and it has got 

A perfect glory too ! 
Ten thousand hairs of colour'd light, 
Make up a glory gay and bright, 

Round that small orb so blue ! * 
* * * * * 

My dear love ! I have said nothing of Italy, for I am as 
much in the dark as when I left Keswick, indeed much more : 
For I now doubt very much whether we shall go or no. 
[Then follows more as to the utter uncertainty of all Wedg- 
wood's schemes of travel.] t 

I must subscribe myself in haste (the mail is waiting) your 
dear husband, 


A few days after this letter was written the travellers 

* The exact point of the comparison of Tom Wedgwood's mind 
to the " small blue sun " is not very evident. The quotation of the 
context may make it clearer. The scene in the poem is an arbour- 
like nook in a woody dell, wherein three people are resting and 
talking on a sunny morning : 

The sun peeps through the close thick leaves, 

See, dearest Ellen ! See ! 
'Tis in the leaves, a little sun, 

No bigger than your *ee ; 
A small blue sun ! and it has got 

A perfect glory too ! 
Ten thousand hairs of colour'd light," &c. 

I imagine that the simile is meant to emphasise, as it were, his 
underlining the words " subtlest" "finest" " A small blue sun " 
became in later editions " a tiny sun." 

t The whole letter is printed in Mr. E. H. Coleridge's selection 
of S. T. C.'s letters, p. 410. It begins with an interesting comparison 
between the Vale of Usk, " nineteen miles of delightful country," 
and " our Vale of Keswick." 


were at Cresselly, and they remained there or in its 
neighbourhood for about a month, Wedgwood taking 
occasional trips for shooting, while Coleridge stayed 
with the Aliens. Cresselly is a country house and 
estate near Narbeth in Pembrokeshire, a few miles 
inland from Tenby. 

Writing to Poole on December 17, Coleridge tells 
him that he is very happy here, and that they have 

plenty of music and plenty of cream. For at Cresselly (I 
mention it as a remarkable circumstance, it being the only 
place I was ever at in which it was not otherwise) though they 
have a dairy, and though they have plenty of milk, they are not 
at all stingy of it. In all other houses where cows are kept, 
you may drink six shillings worth of wine a day, and welcome, 
but use three pennyworth of cream, and O Lord ! the feelings 
of the household. 

These sarcasms, according to a note put by Poole 
on the letter, were aimed at the dairymaid at Stowey, 
who thought Coleridge made too free with her clouted 
cream, or at himself.*" 

That Coleridge was happy at Cresselly is no wonder. 
Besides the good cream, there was the good company 
of the daughters of the house. The eldest of them, 
who was the presiding lady (the squire's wife having 
died long before), was Jessie Allen, then aged twenty- 
five, a woman of rare intelligence and singularly beauti- 
ful character, sympathetic, warm-hearted, responsive ; 
in moral qualities the counterpart of her sister Bessy, 
the universally beloved wife of Josiah Wedgwood. She 

* T. P., ii. 101. 


afterwards, in middle age, became the wife of Sismondi 
the historian. The next sister, Emma, was a person of 
more ordinary type, an affectionate and kindly woman. 
The youngest of the group, Frances, always spoken of 
as Fanny Allen, was in her twenty-first year. She 
lived to be ninety-three, dying in 1875; and was 
known to the multitudinous Wedgwood-Allen-Darwin 
cousinhood of the next two generations as one of the 
cleverest and most entertaining of old ladies. Her 
talk, like her letters, was full of piquancy and point, 
and in the early bloom of twenty-one she must have 
been a very attractive creature. Through her, as it 
happens, we have some slight reminiscences of this 
visit of Tom Wedgwood and Coleridge to Cresselly. 
In her old age, sixty-nine years later, she dictated to 
her niece, Elizabeth Wedgwood, a few sentences of 
" Recollections of Tom Wedgwood."* These run as 
follows : 

Fanny says there was a great charm in Uncle Tom's manner ; 
it was gracious and elegant, but it was more the charm of his 
character which made it so interesting. His ill health made 
him felt to be apart, but in everything he said there was sym- 
pathy and great sensibility, and from his not talking much he 
was a very keen observer, and his fine taste was easily shocked. 
But he judged calmly and sweetly. When he arrived at 
Cresselly, they were all set down to dinner before Mr. Allen, 
who was a great invalid, came in ; and Fanny says she never 
can forget the beauty of his manner when he rose and took 

* The paper is endorsed " written by Sarah Eliz. Wedgwood, 
eldest daughter of J. W. of Maer, whilst staying with Miss F. Allen 
at Tenby in Dec. 1871." It was found among Mrs. Charles Darwin's 


Mr. Allen's hand with so much respect and feeling. Mr. Allen 
said afterwards he had never seen so fine a manner. After 
T. W. left Cresselly he wrote a letter to Sarah * [Wedgwood] 
speaking of them all with so much delicate affection and of his 
feeling towards them as sisters, that Fanny regretted never to 
have seen the letter again. 

One day at Cresselly Mr. Coleridge was saying something 
about the Ten Commandments which T. W. thought would 
shock Mr. Allen, and he tapped him [Coleridge] on the arm 
and took him out of the room and stopped him. 

Once in London there was a party, and Uncle Tom among 
them, to see a picture of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci. Dugald 
Stewart was of the party, and said, " You are all looking at 
that head I cannot keep my eyes from the head of Mr. 
Wedgwood (who was looking intently at the picture) ; it is the 
finest head I ever saw." t 

Another day at Cresselly, Coleridge, who was fond of reading 
MS. poems of Wordsworth's, asked Fanny whether she liked 
poetry, and when she said she did, came and sat by her on the 
sofa, and began to read the Leechgatherer. When he came to 
the passage, now I believe omitted, about his skin being so old 
and dry that the leeches wouldn't stick, it set Fanny a-laughing. 
That frightened her, and she got into a convulsive fit of 
laughter that shook Coleridge, who was sitting close to her, 
looking very angry. He put up his MS., saying he ought to 
ask her pardon, for perhaps to a person who had not genius 
(Fanny cannot exactly remember the expression) the poem 
might seem absurd. F. sat in a dreadful fright, everybody 
looking amazed, Sarah looking angry ; and she almost expected 

* Tom's sister, who had accompanied him and Coleridge into 
South Wales. 

t I find in a letter written by Fanny Allen to the same niece in 
the fifties an allusion to the " effect that Tom's appearance and manner 
had on Mackintosh's ' set,' as they were called, the winter he left for 
India Sydney Smith was almost awed." Dugald Stewart (d. 1828) 
was the Edinburgh Professor who had already become famous through 
his writings on mental and moral philosophy. 


her father would turn her out of the room, but Uncle Tom 
came to her rescue. " Well, Coleridge, one must confess that 
it is not quite a 'subject for a poem." * Coleridge did not forgive 
Fanny for some days, putting by his reading aloud if she came 
in. But afterwards he was very good friends with her, and 
one day in particular gave her all his history, saying, amongst 
other things, " and there I had the misfortune to meet with my 

The two friends seem to have lingered on at Cres- 
selly in a state of complete indecision as to schemes 
of further travel. " God knows what I can do," Tom 
writes to his brother Josiah, " Coleridge is all kind- 
ness to me, and in prodigious favour here. . . . He 
takes great pains to make himself pleasant. He is 
willing, indeed desirous, to accompany me to any part 
of the globe." 

Both men were eager to get into a warm climate. 
Italy, Teneriffe, Madeira, were talked of in turn. 
Then Tom imagines another scheme. " A Mr. Luff, 
a friend of Coil's in the North, a young man, for- 
merly of fashion, now in distress, with a pretty little 
wife, five years married and no children ; he is mad 

* The poem known in the Wordsworth household as the " Leech- 
gatherer " was first published in 1 807, under the title " Resolution 
and Independence." Neither in that nor any later edition is there 
anything as to the old man's skin or the leeches not sticking. 
Dorothy Wordsworth's diary shows that she made two copies of 
the poem for Coleridge, one on May 9, 1802, and one on July 5, 
1802. In this same year Coleridge sent Sir George Beaumont a 
copy, presumably made from one of Dorothy's, it is not known 
which ; but that copy does not contain the passage in question. 
Knight's edition of the Poems, 1896, ii. 12.) Possibly it appeared 

3 the copy made by Dorothy in May, and Coleridge may have 
been reading from that. 


after field sports, of the best possible dispositions I 
think to form a trio for a year and run wild." 

This plan takes them at once to the Lake country, 
for Luff's abode is at Patterdale, and on Christmas 
Eve we find them calling at Wordsworth's cottage at 
Grasmere on their way to Keswick, which they reach 
the same day.^ Of this passing visit to Wordsworth 
I find a trace in a letter written by the poet to 
Josiah Wedgwood after Tom's death. " When your 
brother," he says, " entered the room where I am now 
writing, about four years ago, I was quite heart-stricken ; 
he was deplorably changed, which was painful to see ; 
but his calm and dignified manner, united with his tall 
person and beautiful face, produced in me an impression 
of sublimity beyond what I ever experienced from the 
appearance of any other human being." f 

These remarkable expressions, used by a man not 
given to extravagance of language, show that Wedg- 
wood's personal appearance must have been excep- 
tionally striking ; and they agree, it will be seen, with 
Fanny Allen's anecdote as to his meeting with Dugald 
Stewart and with her remarks as to his dignified bear- 
ing when at Cresselly. 

Tom's first letter from Coleridge's abode at Keswick 
shows that he had again fallen back into a terrible depth 
of despondency. 

* Here Coleridge finds his new-born daughter, Sara, who had 
appeared on the preceding day. 

t Written in September 1806. The letter is given in a short 
account of Tom's life which Josiah drew up for the information of 
Mackintosh. In the words "deplorably changed" Wordsworth is 
probably recalling Tom's visit to him at Alfoxden (anfe, p. 5 2). 


Tom Wedgwood to his brother Josiah 


25 Dec., 1802. 

... If that fail [a plan of settling in Wales, one of various 
schemes for fighting his disease] I will neither distress myself 
nor my friends by continuing a vain struggle with Nature, but 
in complete resignation yield to her an existence which she 
will not allow to be anything but a burden to myself, and a 
perpetual source of anxiety to all around me. I feel a comfort 
from this resolution which sustains me in my most gloomy 
moments I see a termination of my sufferings. . . . For God's 
sake understand me aright. I have for more than ten years 
made every possible effort to recover my health and spirits. In 
that time I have suffered more than I have ever told and more 
than can easily be conceived. I am not at all advanced. My 
patience is gone. I do not become inured to suffering, and I 
am determined, after one or two more efforts, to relieve myself 
from all further effort, and to minister such stimuli as shall 
diminish the tediousness and misery of my life to a bearable 
degree, and take my chance for the consequences. If for a 
moment you could enter into my feelings, you would not be 
inclined to controvert my resolve. Would to God I could 
devote my life to your happiness, instead of thus for ever dis- 
turbing it ! 

This letter is headed " Read this by yourself," and is 
marked " Private." Another following it is in the same 
strain : 

" . . . Shall I add that if the feelings of others were not 
involved in my decision, I should instantly resort to that final 
scheme which would bring immediate ease into my mind, by 
calmly yielding to that power which has baffled as much fore- 
sight, courage, and temperance as would have ensured a victory 
in 99 cases in a hundred ? If I am to continue yet much 


longer on this earth, I must at all events be separated from all 
my best friends, the sensation which wrings my soul." 

To these despairful utterances Josiah's answer was * : 

Josiah Wedgwood to his brother 'Tom 


Dec. 31, 1802. 

I got yours of the 25th only to-day. . . . Your situation 
fills me with anguish, and I feel it with the more bitterness, 
having no consolation to offer you, nor any expedient for your 
relief to point out. Would to God you could show me how 
I can alleviate your sufferings, for I love you with my heart 
and soul. If the expression of your feelings afford you the 
slightest relief, do not refrain from it from any apprehension of 
giving me pain. I feel your pains, and shall think myself 
despicable if ever I cease to feel them, but my temper is 
cheerful, and I am in no danger of being permanently affected. 
I do not wish you to exhaust yourself by writing long letters, 
but I beg to hear often from you. 

* This is a half-sheet bearing no signature. It may have been a 
draft only. 




THE new year found Tom in a pleasant resting-place, 
the cottage of the Luffs at the head of Ulleswater, 
" embarked," as he says,* " on a new scheme, not of any 
great promise, but at any rate a temporary relief to a 
most painful state of irresolution and despondency." 
His description of his hosts shows them as good 
affectionate people, doing anything they can to 
make the sick man's life tolerable. Their cottage is 
in a delightful spot, a hundred yards from the lake. 
Behind it are the lower slopes of Helvellyn, in front 
the great mass of Place Fell, rising on the opposite 
side of the lake. The garden is washed by the 
streamlet from Glen Ridding. He is only nine miles 
away from the Wordsworths, whom he hopes to see 
not seldom, for he already feels that the society of the 
cottage " would be dull diet without occasional season- 
ing " ; but there is a " tremendous mountain " [Grise- 
dale Pass] between him and Dove Cottage. He is on 
the " most cordial terms of intimacy and good under- 
standing " with the Luffs. The lady is a " little being 
of a simple but kindly nature, extremely limited in 

* To Josiah Wedgwood, January I, 180 3. 


general information " but with " sense of the right 
sort. Her steadiness of character has rescued her 
husband from perdition." They are living in this 
remote spot, partly for fishing and other sport, partly 
because " Luff has still some debts, and does not wish 
to have it much known where he is." * 

Here Wedgwood thinks to fix himself, at least for a 
time, after having persuaded these kind people, with 
some difficulty, to let him share their housekeeping 
expenses. But as the winter advances he craves for a 
warmer climate, and is still planning schemes of southern 
travel. If his strength permits he u may probably 
induce Luff to go too, as a sporting companion, with 
Coleridge for conversation." 

Coleridge, writing to him from Greta Hall on 
January 9, develops this wild scheme in his usual 
optimistic fashion : 

In some part of Italy or Sicily which we both liked, I would 
look out for two houses. Wordsworth and his family would 
take one, and I the other, and then you might have a home 
either with me, or if you thought of Mr. and Mrs. Luff under 
this modification, one of your own ; and in either case you 
would have neighbours, and so return to England when the 
home-sickness pressed heavy upon you, 

and so on. We hear no more of this visionary project. 
It is in the letter just mentioned t that Coleridge 
gives an often-quoted and striking description of a 
ride over Kirkstone Pass in the face of a furious 

* They were familiar friends of Wordsworth and his sister. 

t Printed in full in Mr. E. H. Coleridge's " Letters of S. T. C." 
p. 417. It is the only one of the poet's letters to T. Wedgwood 
which appears in that collection. 


storm, telling how at the top he met a man who had 
dismounted, not being able to keep on his horse, and 
who said to him with much feeling : " Oh ! Sir, it is a 
perilous buffeting." Wedgwood's reply, asking why 
he ventured to go on in the face of such weather, 
evoked the following remarkable letter : 

S. < T. Coleridge to Tom Wedgwood 


Friday night, Jan. 14, 1803. 
[No postmark : evidently sent from GRETA HALL, KESWICK.] 


I was glad at heart to receive your letter (which came to me 
on Thursday morning), and still more gladdened by the reading 
of it. The exceeding kindness which it breathed was literally 
medicinal to me ; and I firmly believe, cured me of a nervous 
rheumatism in my head and teeth. I daresay that you mixed 
up the scolding and the affection, the acid and the oil, very 
compleatly at Patterdale ; but by the time it came to Keswick, 
the oil was atop. 

You ask, in God's name, why I did not return when I saw 
the state of the weather ? The true reason is simple, though 
it may be somewhat strange the thought never once entered 
my head. The cause of this I suppose to be that (I do not 
remember it at least) I never once in my whole life turned 
back in fear of the weather. Prudence is a plant, of which I 
no doubt possess some valuable specimens, but they are always 
in my hothouse, never out of the glasses, and least of all things 
would endure the climate of the mountains. In simple earnest, 
1 never find myself alone with the embracement of rocks and 
hills, a traveller up an alpine road, but my spirit courses, drives, 
and eddies, like a Leaf in Autumn ; a wild activity, of thoughts, 
imaginations, feelings, and impulses of motion, rises up from 
within me ; a sort of bottom-wind, that blows to no point of the 


compass, comes from I know not whence, but agitates the 
whole of me ; my whole being is filled with waves that roll and 
stumble, one this way, and one that way, like things that have 
no common master. I think that my soul must have pre- 
existed in the body of a Chamois-chaser ; the simple image of 
the old object has been obliterated ; but the feelings, and im- 
pulsive habits, and incipient actions are in me, and the old 
scenery awakens them. The further I ascend from animated 
Nature, from men, and cattle, and the common birds of the 
woods and fields, the greater becomes in me the Intensity of 
the feeling of life. Life seems to me then a universal spirit, 
that neither has, nor can have, an opposite. " God is every- 
where," I have exclaimed, "and works everywhere, and where 
is there room for death ? " In these moments it has been my 
creed, that Death exists only because Ideas exist ; that life is 
limitless Sensation ; that Death is a child of the organic senses, 
chiefly of the Sight ; that Feelings die by flowing into the 
mould of the Intellect, and becoming ideas ; and that Ideas 
passing forth into action reinstate themselves again in the world 
of Life. And I do believe that truth lies enveloped in these 
loose generalisations. I do not think it possible that any bodily 
pains could eat out the love and joy, that is so substantially part 
of me, towards hills, and rocks, and steep waters ; and I have 
had some Trial. 

On Tuesday I was uncommonly well all the morning, and 
eat an excellent dinner ; but playing too long and too romp- 
ingly with Hartley and Derwent, I was very unwell that even- 
ing. On Wednesday I was well, and after dinner wrapped 
myself up warm, and walked with Sarah Hutchinson* to 
Lodore. I never beheld anything more impressive than the 
wild outline of the black masses of mountain over Lodore [here 
he gives a rough sketch of the mountain outline] to the Gorge 
of Borrowdale, seen through the bare Twigs of a grove of 

* Sister of Mrs. Wordsworth. Lodore is the cataract near the 
Borrowdale end of Derwentwater. 


Birch Trees, through which the road passes ; and on emerging 
from the grove a red planet (so very red that I never saw a star 
so red, being clear and bright at the same time) stood on the 
edge of the point where I have put an asterisk ; it seemed to 
have sky behind it ; it started, as it were, from the Heaven, like 
an eye-ball of Fire. I wished aloud for you to have been with 
me at that moment. 

The walk appeared to have done me good, but I had a 
wretched Night; had shocking pains in my head, occiput, and 
teeth, and found in the morning that I had two blood-shot eyes. 
But almost immediately after the receipt and perusal of your 
letter the pains left me, and I have bettered to this hour ; and 
am now indeed as well as usual, saving that my left eye is very 
much blood-shot. It is a sort of duty with me to be particular 
respecting facts that relate to my health. I am myself not at 
all dispirited. I have retained a good sound appetite through 
the whole of it, without any craving after exhilarants or 
narcotics ; and I have got well, as in a moment. Rapid 
recovery is constitutional with me ; but the two former cir- 
cumstances I can with certainty refer to the system of Diet, 
abstinence from vegetables, wine, spirits, and beer, which I have 
adopted by your advice. 

I have no dread or anxiety respecting any fatigue which 
either of us is likely to undergo, even in continental Travelling. 
Many a healthy man would have been layed up with such a 
Bout of thorough wet and intense cold at the same time as I 
had at Kirkstone. Would to God that also for your sake I 
were a stronger man j but I have strong wishes to be with you, 
and love your society ; and receiving much comfort from you, 
and believing that I receive likewise much improvement, I find 
a delight (very great, my dear friend ! indeed it is), when I have 
reason to imagine that I am in return an alleviation of your 
destinies, and a comfort to you. I have no fears ; and am ready 
to leave home at a two days' warning. For myself I should say 
two hours ; but bustle and hurry might disorder Mrs. Coleridge, 
She and the three children are quite well. 


I grieve that there is a lowring in politics. The Moniteur 
contains almost daily some bitter abuse of our ministers and 
parliament, and in London there is great anxiety and omening. 
I have dreaded war from the time that the disastrous fortunes 
of the expedition of Saint Domingo,* under Le Clerc, was 
known in France. t . . . 

I remain, my dear Wedgewood, with most affectionate 
esteem and grateful attachment, 

Your sincere friend, 


A month later, Coleridge is with Poole at Stowey, 
and Tom at Cote House. The scheme for their 
travelling together forms the burden of several more 
letters, but doubts and hesitations increase as the weeks 
go on. 

S. f. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 


Thursday night I : Feb. 10, 1803. 

. . . You bid Poole not reply to your letter. Dear Friend, 
I could not, if I had wished it. Only with regard to myself and 
my accompanying you, let me say this much. My health is not 
worse than it was in the North ; indeed it is much better. I 

* The expedition sent by Buonaparte to enforce the re-establish- 
ment of slavery in the island. Only about 2000 out of 35,000 lived 
to return to France. It was then that Toussaint 1'Ouverture, 
" most unhappy man of men," was seized and carried off to die in 
a French dungeon. 

t What follows is as to errands, shoppings, &c., with an invitation 
to Greta Hall. 

\ I think it needless to print another letter he writes on this same 
date to Tom Wedgwood at Cote. It is without interest, except 
that it refers to a request made by Coleridge to Captain John 
Wordsworth (the poet's brother) to get from India some " bang " 
for Wedgwood's use. 


have no fears. But if you feel that my health being what you 
know it to be, the inconveniences of my being with you will 
be greater than the advantages, feel no reluctance in telling me 
so. It is so entirely an affair of spirits, that the conclusion must 
be made by you, not in your reason, but purely in your Spirits 
and Feelings. Sorry indeed should I be to know that you had 
gone abroad with one to whom you were comparatively indif- 
ferent. Sorry if there should be no one with you, who could 
with fellow-feeling and general like-mindedness, yield you sym- 
pathy in your sunshiny moments. Dear Wedgewood ! my 
heart swells within me as it were. I have no other wish to ac- 
company you than what arises immediately from my personal 
attachment to you, and a deep sense in my own heart, that let 
us be as dejected as we will, a week together cannot pass in which 
a mind like yours would not feel the want of affection, or be 
wholly torpid to its pleasurable influences. I cannot bear to 
think of your going abroad with a mere travelling companion ; 
with one at all influenced by salary, or personal conveniences. 
You will not suspect me of flattering you, but indeed, dear 
Wedgewood, you are too good and too valuable a man to deserve 
to receive attendance from a hireling, even for a month together, 
in your present state. 

If I do not go with you, I shall stay in England only such 
time as may be necessary for me to raise the travelling money, 
and go immediately to the south of France. I shall probably 
cross the Pyrenees to Bilboa, see the country of Biscay, and 
cross the north of Spain to Perpignan, and so on to the north 
of Italy, and pass my next winter at Nice. I have every 
reason to believe that I can live, even as a traveller, as cheap 
as I can in England. [Here are some lines as to a commission 
of Josiah's for buying some malt.] 

God bless you ! I will repeat no professions, even in the 
subscription of a Letter. You know me, and that is my 
serious simple wish that in everything respecting me you would 
think altogether of yourself, and nothing of me ; and be assured 
that no Resolve of yours, however suddenly adopted, or however 


nakedly communicated, will give me any pain, any at least 
arising from my own Bearings. 

Your's ever 


P.S. I have been so overwhelmed that I have said nothing 
of Poole. What indeed can or ought I to say ? You know 
what his feelings are, even to men whom he loves and esteems 
far less than you. He is deeply affected . 

Perhaps Leslie would accompany you. 

S. 'T. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 


Thursday , February 17, 1803. 

I do not know that I have anything to say that justifies me 
in troubling you with the Postage and Perusal of this scrawl. 
I received a short and kind letter from Josiah last night. He 
is named the sheriff [of Dorset]. Poole, who has received a 
very kind invitation from your Brother in a letter of last 
Monday, and which was repeated in last night's letter, goes 
with me, I hope, in the full persuasion that you will be there 
before he is under the necessity of returning home. He has 
settled both his might-have-been-lawsuits in a perfectly pleasant 
way, exactly to his own wish. He bids me say, what there is 
no occasion of saying, with what anxious affection his Thoughts 
follow you. Poole is a very, very good man. I like even his 
incorrigibility in little faults and deficiencies ; it looks like a 
wise determination of Nature " to let well alone." 

Are you not laying out a scheme which will throw your 
Travelling in Italy into an unpleasant and unwholesome part 
of the year? From all I can gather, you ought to leave this 
country in the first days of April at the latest. But no doubt 
you know these things better than I. If I do not go with you, 
it is very probable that we shall meet somewhere or other ; at 


all events you will know where I am, and I can come to you 
if you wish it. And if I go with you, there will be this 
Advantage, that you may drop me where you like, if you should 
meet any Frenchman, Italian, or Swiss, whom you liked, and 
who would be pleasant and profitable to you. But this we can 
discuss at Gunville. 

As to Mackintosh, I never doubted that he means to fulfil 
his engagements with you ; but he is one of those weak-moraled 
men, with whom the meaning to do a thing means nothing.* 
He promises with his whole Heart, but there is always a little 
speck of cold felt at the core that transubstantiates the whole 
resolve into a Lie, even in his own consciousness. But what I 
most fear is that he will in some way or other embroider him- 
self upon your Thoughts ; but you, no doubt, will see the 
Proof Sheets, and will prevent this from extending to the injury 
of your meaning. Would to Heaven it were done ! I may 
with strictest truth say, that I have thirsted for its appearance. 

I remain in comfortable Health. Warm rooms, an old 
Friend, and Tranquillity, are specifics for my complaints. 
With all my ups and downs I have a deal of joyous feeling, 
that I would with gladness give a good part of to you, my 
dear Friend ! God grant that Spring may come to you with 
healing on her wings ! 

My respectful remembrances to your Brother, and Mrs. J. 
Wedge wood. 

I desire Mrs. J. Wedgewood, when she writes to Crescelly, 
to remember me with affection to Miss Allen, and Fanny and 
Emma ; and to say how often I think with pleasure on them 
and the weeks I passed in their society. When you come to 
Gunville, please not to forget my Pens. Poole and I quarrel 
once a day about them. 

* This and what follows refers to Mackintosh's undertaking to 
put into shape Wedgwood's philosophical speculations, a promise 
which was not fulfilled. But that Coleridge of all men should com- 
plain of any one else as being " one with whom the meaning to 
do a thing means nothing" ! ! 


God bless you, my dear Wedgewood ! 

I remain with most affectionate esteem and regular attach- 
ment and good wishes. 

Your's ever, 


The messages to the Cresselly sisters, and allusions in 
other letters, give the impression that Coleridge made 
good friends among the Allen ladies. That Tom's 
near relations, however, did not all sympathise with 
him in his admiration for the poet is shown by a letter 
from his sister Kitty which must have been written 
about this time. It is interesting as giving a /cooJ 
estimate of the man as he appeared to an intelligent, 
though matter-of-fact bystander. Some of her 
criticism was certainly of a kind not very easy to 

Kitty Wedgwood to 'Tom Wedgwood 

[No date endorsed COTE, 1803.] 

* * * * * 

We shall do everything to make your bed-room warm and 
Mr. Coleridge's comfortable, though it cannot be smart, as he 
must ascend to the tower. I don't know whether we shall 
ever agree in our sentiments respecting this gentleman, but 
I hope if we do not that we may agree to differ. I certainly 
felt no scruples of conscience in joining the attack at Cresselly. 
I have never seen enough of him to overcome the first dis- 
agreeable impression of his accent and exterior. I confess, too, 
that in what I have seen and heard of Mr. Coleridge there is 
in my opinion too great a parade of superior feeling ; and an 
excessive goodness and sensibility is put too forward, which 
gives an appearance, at least, of conceit, and excites suspicion 
that it is acting j as real sensibility never endeavours to excite 


notice. I will tell you sincerely my opinion of him, whether 
it is well or ill founded. He appears to be an uncomfortable 
husband, and very negligent, of the worldly interest at least, of 
his children ; leaving them in case of his death to be provided 
for by his friends is a scheme more worthy of his desultory 
habits than of his talents. I think a sturdy independent spirit 
is so very admirable that, to be extremely candid, I have never 
recovered his so willingly consenting to be so much obliged to 
even you. You see I have not much to say, but 'tis the im- 
pression I have of his thinking himself much better than the 
world in general that inclines one to look more closely into his 
own life and conduct ; and as his judgments of others are not 
inclined to the favourable side, he does not from his own 
conduct claim lenity. 

I am almost afraid to let you see this letter, but it does as 
clearly as I can express contain my present opinion of Mr. 
Coleridge. I think I am not so rivetted to this opinion but 
that I can change, if upon seeing more of him he gives me 
sufficient grounds. That I shall ever think him very agree- 
able I do not imagine. I agree with you in some parts of 
your character entirely, and of the others I cannot judge. I 
think it would have been strange if he had not been very civil 
and obliging at Cresselly where he was so hospitably received 
I question whether Emma will celebrate his politeness* I 
hope this subject is very interesting otherwise you will be 
very much tired, but I was glad to state quite plainly and 
sincerely my opinion. 

At length the plan of joint travel, a hopeless one at 
the best, for two sick men of such abnormal tempers as 
Coleridge and Wedgwood, finally collapsed when, on 

* I find nothing in the letters to explain this doubt. Emma 
Allen was the one plain figure in the group, and though an intelli- 
gent woman, was not nearly so agreeable as her sisters ; but one 
would not like to think this made Coleridge less polite to her than 
to the rest. What " the attack " was there is nothing to show. 


the top of all other difficulties, came imminent threat- 
enings of renewed war with France. But Tom found 
a companion, an artist named Underwood, and on 
March 25, 1803, crossed to Calais. At that moment 
his countrymen were all flying home. A few days 
previously Buonaparte had personally insulted Lord 
Whitworth, our Ambassador, at an official reception at 
the Tuiieries, and the general belief was that war was 
inevitable. On April 16 we find Tom at Paris, and a 
fortnight later he is at Geneva, planning moves to 
warmer regions ; but, alas ! with scarce a hope of any 
betterment. " Nothing," he says, " can be more hope- 
less than my situation." He shrinks from returning, 
and yet all other schemes seem impracticable. He tells 
his brother his troubles, blaming himself for doing so. 
" The repugnance I feel at again distressing you with 
my almost hopeless case, believe me, is most extreme." 
He lingered at Geneva very nearly too long, and only 
just escaped being caught and made a detenu under 
Buonaparte's iniquitous decree. On May 6, he is in 
fear of " the Calais passage being shut." He must 
have left a day or two later, and got to Paris just as 
the English Ambassador was leaving it. He crossed 
the Channel on the very day of the declaration of war, 
May 16; and on the 22nd Buonaparte ordered the 
arrest of all English residents and travellers. His 
travelling companion, Underwood, who had stayed in 
France with intent _to pursue his art studies, had the 
bad luck to be caught,* and was a detenu for at least two 

* Wedgwood did all he could to obtain his release, but without 
avail, and sent him supplies of money. His letters give one an 


years, if not for another nine, till the end of the 


idea of the amount of undeserved suffering caused by the decree. 
For a long time he was unable to learn whether his old mother was 
dead or alive. It took about two months to get letters from England, 
as they had to go round by Sweden. Without Wedgwood's help he 
would have been nearly starved. The latest of his letters, a very 
sad one, is dated April 3, 1805 (three months before Wedgwood's 
death). The First Consul's abominable act, which was a violation 
of all rules of war, made about ten thousand English families 
miserable in this way. It is curious that the Whig pro-Buona- 
partists should have forgotten all this when they inveighed against 
the cruelty of keeping their hero at Longwood, where he was living 
in one of the most delightful climates in the world, and with twelve 
thousand a year wherewith to get himself any luxury he might 



- 1804 ;,-; 

WEDGWOOD'S malady, whatever it was, had evidently 
been advancing, and from 1 803 onwards to his death 
two years later the burden of his letters to his brother 
is an increasing hopelessness : " If I recrossed the 
Channel it has only been to seize the last possibility 
of staving off a little longer that termination which 
nature seems determined to force upon me." But 
he still kept struggling on. In the summer of this 
year he was trying to make out something of a life 
for himself in London. His main abode was the 
house of the Wedgwood firm in York Street, St. 
James's, but he was often at the chambers of John 
Hensleigh Allen (brother-in-law of his two brothers) 
in the Temple. In July he says : " I am almost living 
with Tobin in Barnard's Inn " ; and later he is " messing 
with Tobin " for a month. * 

* This Tobin I understand to be John, the solicitor and dramatist, 
brother to the James who was an intimate friend of Tom's, as he was 
also of the Wordsworths. James was the " dear brother Jem " who 
figures in the first edition of" We are seven," 

" A simple child, dear brother Jem, 
Who lightly draws its breath," &c. 
See the Fenwick note to the poem, where Wordsworth tells how 


Among his chief associates at this time were two 
new acquaintances with whom he quickly became in- 
timate, Richard (" Conversation ") Sharp and Thomas 
Campbell the poet. Every mention of Sharp shows 
him as one of the most sympathetic and helpful of 
friends " He is devoted to my service," " out-doing 
all former kindnesses," &c. Campbell was then a 
young man of twenty-six at the outset of his literary 
career. " The Pleasures of Hope " had appeared in 
1799. To him Tom Wedgwood was strongly attracted, 
and the feeling was warmly returned. A letter of 
Campbell's to his great friend Dr. Currie gives us a 
curiously expressed record of the impression made 
upon him by Wedgwood. After enlarging on a 
singular kind of feeling which, when he is in a certain 
mood, prevents his writing to Currie with perfect ease 
and frankness, he says : 

The mischief is, I respect you ; I am afraid of prattling to 
you, and for fear of that I can say nothing. Worse than this, 
I have another fault of true English temperament. When the 
world crosses me ... or when I have a slight headache or 
derangement of stomach, the duty of propriety^ and above all 
in correspondence, stares me in the face like a gorgon. . . . 
Every motion of my mind grows cramped and ungraceful. I 
lose confidence in myself and the world. ... I thought this 
malady of metempsychosis peculiar to one unhappy being. . . . 
If I had observed symptoms of it in others, it was in some 
bad characters whom I did not like myself for resembling. 
But I found it lately, by the confession of a candid and worthy 
man, in one who is more than my fellow-creature in this 
failing, as he has it even worse than myself ; I have even been 

James Tobin entreated him to cancel it " for if published it will 
make you everlastingly ridiculous." 


reconciled to it from seeing it the concomitant of a mind 
perhaps the finest I ever met with. The person I speak of is 
Thorn. Wedgwood, the son of the potter, of whom you may 
have heard, as he is known to literary people. We have been 
sometime well acquainted ; and from finding him a man above 
par, I was fond of his conversation. We met one day, both in 
a cold and cramped metempsychosis, with bad health, and I 
was crossed with my love affair ; and our conversation got 
upon this subject. ... I cannot help noticing poor Wedgwood 
a strange and wonderful being. Full of goodness, benevo- 
lence, with a mind stored with ideas, with metaphysics the 
most exquisitely fine I ever heard delivered, a man of wonder- 
ful talents, a tact of taste acute beyond description with even 
good nature and mild manners, he is not happy. I thought 
till I saw him, that happiness was to be defeated by no other 
circumstances than weakness, vice, or an uncommanded 

Still meditating foreign travel, Tom Wedgwood 
tried to get Campbell to accompany him, but had to 
give up the idea, as he found that Campbell was on the 
point of marrying. He calls this " a cruel disappoint- 
ment." He then thought of Hazlitt. The vivid 
account of Hazlitt given by Coleridge in the follow- 
ing letter was evidently an answer to some inquiry 
made by Tom in this view.f 

* Beattie's " Life of Campbell," i. 46. I know of nothing to 
explain why Campbell should apply the Greek term for the trans- 
migration of souls to the kind of mental malaise which he describes 
as common to Tom Wedgwood and himself. 

t William Hazlitt (b. 1778, d. 1830) was at this time twenty- 
five years old, seven years younger than Tom Wedgwood. He was 
trying portrait-painting for a livelihood, and had not yet done any 
literary work. 


S. T. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 

(At Mr. Allen's Chambers, Inner Temple.) 

September 16, Friday [1803]. 

I reached home on yesterday noon, and it was not a Post 
Day. William Hazlitt is a thinking, observant, original man, 
of great power as a Painter of Character-Portraits, and far 
more in the manner of the old Painters than any living Artist, 
but the objects must be before him ; he has no imaginative 
memory. So much for his Intellectuals. His manners are to 
99 in 100 singularly repulsive ; brow-hanging, shoe-contem- 
plative, strange. Sharp seemed to like him ; but Sharp saw 
him only for half an hour, and that walking. He is, I verily 
believe, kindly-natured ; is very fond of, attentive to, and 
patient with children ; but he is jealous, gloomy, and of an 
irritable Pride. With all this, there is much good in him. 
He is disinterested ; an enthusiastic lover of the great men 
who have been before us; he says things that are his own, 
in a way of his own ; and though from habitual Shyness, and 
the outside and bearskin at least, of misanthropy, he is strangely 
confused and dark in his conversation, and delivers himself of 
almost all his conceptions with a Forceps, yet he says more 
than any man I ever knew (yourself only excepted) that is his 
own in a way of his own ; and oftentimes when he has warmed 
his mind, and the synovial juice has come out and spread over 
his joints, he will gallop for half an hour together with real 
eloquence. He sends well-headed and well-feathered Thoughts 
straight forwards to the mark with a Twang of the Bow- 
string. If you could recommend him as a portrait-painter, I 
should be glad. To be your Companion he is, in my opinion, 
utterly unfit. His own Health is fitful. 

I have written, as I ought to do, to you most freely, into ex 
corde ; you know me, both head and heart, and will make what 


deductions your reasons will dictate to you.* I can think of 
no other person. What wonder ? For the last years I have 
been shy of all mere acquaintance. 

" To live beloved is all I need, 
And when I love, I love indeed." 

I never had any ambition ; and now, I trust, I have almost 
as little vanity. 

For 5 months past my mind has been strangely shut up. I 
have taken the paper with the intention to write to you many 
times ; but it has been all one blank Feeling, one blank idealess 
Feeling. I had nothing to say, I could say nothing. How 
dearly I love you, my very Dreams make known to me. I will 
not trouble you with the gloomy tale of my Health. While I 
am awake, by patience, employment, effort of mind, and walking, 
I can keep the fiend at arm's length, but the Night is my Hell ! 
sleep my tormenting Angel. Three nights out of four I fall 
asleep struggling to lie awake ; and my frequent night-screams 
have almost made me a nuisance in my own House. Dreams 
with me are no Shadows, but the very substances and foot-thick 
calamities of my Life. Beddoes, who has been to me ever a very 
kind man, suspects that my stomach " brews vinegar." I am 
careful of my Diet. The supercarbonated kals does me no 
service, nor magnesia, neither have I any head-ach. But I am 
grown hysterical. Meantime my looks and strength have 
improved. I myself fully believe it to be either atonic, hypo- 
chondriacal Gout, or a scrophulous affection of the Mesenteric 

* Cottle's version of this sentence may be quoted to show what utter 
nonsense his reckless editing makes of what Coleridge wrote : " I 
have written as I ought to do : to you most freely. You know me, 
both head and heart, and I will make what deductions your reasons 
may dictate to me." A sentence a few lines higher up is similarly 
travestied out of all recognition. Here Cottle, not understanding 
Coleridge's odd anatomical metaphor, calmly cuts it out, and puts 
in a patchwork of his own : " . . . When he has wearied his mind, 
and the juice is come out, and spread over his spirits, he will gallop, 


Glands. In the hope of drawing the Gout, if Gout it should 
be, into my feet, I walked, previously to my getting into the 
Coach at Perth, 263 miles in eight Days, with no unpleasant 
fatigue ; * and if I could do you any service by coming to 
town, and there were no Coaches, I would undertake to be 
with you, on foot, in 7 days. I must have strength some- 
where ; my head is indefatigably strong ; my limbs too are 
strong; but [here he launches into a wild description of his 
bodily troubles.] 

All my family are well. Southey, his wife, and Mrs. Lovell 
are with us. He has lost his little girl, the unexpected gift of 
a long marriage ; and stricken to the heart is come hither for 
such poor comforts as my society can afford him. 

To diversify this dusky letter, I will write an Epitaph, which 
I composed in my sleep for myself, while dreaming that I was 
dying. To the best of my recollection I have not altered a 
word. Your's dear Wedgwood, and of all that are dear to 
you at Gunville, gratefully and most affectionately, 



" Here sleeps at length poor Col. and without screaming, 
Who died, as he had always liv'd, a dreaming : 
Shot dead, while sleeping, by the Gout within, 
Alone, and all unknown, at E'nbro' in an inn." 

It was on Tuesday night last, at the Black Bull, Edinburgh. 

Before Wedgwood received this letter he had put 
aside, for a time at least, the scheme of travel which 
prompted the inquiry about Hazlitt, and was immersed 

* This alludes to his solitary wanderings in the Highlands after 
leaving Wordsworth and his sister in the middle of the Scotch tour 
described in Dorothy's delightful " Recollections." He left them 
on the plea of being unwell, but the real reason must have been 
that being with them interfered with his taking laudanum. 


in another project, one of the oddest of the many 
plans by which, when all regular doctoring had failed 
to do anything for him, he sought to circumvent his 
mysterious malady. The beginning and end of this 
may be told in a few sentences from his letters to Poole 
and to his brother. 

"(n Sept. 1803) . . . going to take a house in town by the 
week. My plan is to busy myself in the little practical con- 
cerns of housekeeping. I have a friend who will be with me. 

(17 Sept.) I am fairly embarked in my scheme, having 
just made the beds and explained my intentions to Frederic, 
and [with] a louis bribe to a discreet silence. His room is 
now fitting up as my kitchen. I am going to York Street for 
stores. At one I return to cook our dinner. If I can only 
escape those horrible lownesses, I shall certainly adhere to this 
new plan of life. As to making life pleasant on the whole, I 
have no such expectation. I aim only at making it tolerable. 
Send Frederic's flute by waggon. 

(19 Sept.) I persevere in my plan have cooked two dinners 
and made beds, &c. &c. . . I like the plan better than I expected, 
and find that living with one person will furnish as much work 
as I shall ever want, including washing and ironing. Aslet 
certainly will not do for that person. His temper is bad. 

(23 Sept.) I experienced a most cruel mortification yester- 
day. After nine days steady perseverance, I found myself so 
low and so languid that I was obliged to get Frederic to finish 
the cooking of the dinner, washing, &c. Cooking I resign for 
ever ; it deprives me of all stomach for my dinner. I am so 
harassed by fever, tho' I have lived on fish for the last fortnight, 
that I am afraid I must desist from labour for a while. I am 
frightened at the prospect before me. 

(28 Sept.) So extremely feeble I can't prosecute my labours, 
which, when cookery is excluded, are indeed insufficient in 
quantity. . . . 


And so he turns to other plans. He is " impatient to 
quit London," and thinks at one time of getting some 
additions made to a farmhouse near Gunville, where 
Luff and his wife can come and companionise him ; 
then of " running up a room " for himself with a 
" minute Kitchen " on his Eastbury estate. 

In the autumn of 1803 all England was in a ferment 
in the expectation of a French invasion. Napoleon's 
" Army of England " was encamped at Boulogne, with 
the flotilla of transports ready to carry 100,000 men 
across those few miles of sea at the first fair wind. 
The country was fully roused, and able-bodied men of 
all ranks were being enrolled as volunteers. Even 
Tom Wedgwood, sick as he was, fancied at moments 
that he might do some kind of service. " If it lasts," 
he says (October 3), speaking of a slight improvement 
in his health, " I seriously mean to offer myself for 
garrison service on the coast, but last night I found 
myself unable to get off my chair, and for the time 
abandoned the idea of ramming a cannon." But he 
could not rest without doing something towards the 
defence of the country. " As my health," he wrote 
to Poole, " will not allow me to serve in person, it is 
my duty to serve by my purse. I have, therefore, 
made an offer to Government to raise a Company of 
volunteers and clothe 1 them at my expense." 

Poole, then in London for his Poor Law work, 
helped him to arrange this at the War Office. He 
learnt that about Patterdale and the Lakes, where he 
had stayed with the Luffs, the men were eager to 


volunteer; but that money was wanted for the 'needful 
expenses. He therefore, with LufFs aid, formed a 
Company of eighty men from among the " statesmen " 
of the district, clothing and arming them as riflemen. 
The cost of doing this, including pay for twenty days 
exercise, which he gave the men while they were 
" supernumeraries," before Government allowed them 
the regular pay of volunteers, came to about ^800. 
Luff, who had been in the army, was put at their 
head, and proved a most zealous organiser and com- 
mander. The Company decided on taking the name 
of its founder, and it was known as " Wedgwood's 
Mountaineers." They " exercised through the first 
winter," says Josiah Wedgwood, " often mid-leg deep 
in snow, many of them walking ten miles to the field." 
All the accounts go to show that they were a splendid 
set of men. An inspecting officer tells them he shall 
" report them as not only fit for immediate service, 
but perfectly equal to being brigaded with any regi- 
ment of the line, and to be sent on the most arduous 
duty." That they were grateful for Wedgwood's 
help is testified by a letter dated " Ulcatrow Moor," 
signed by "John Sutton and John Robinson Lieu- 
tenants," and addressed to " Charles Luff Esq., Captain 
Wedgwood Loyal Mountaineers," wherein they request 
him to " represent to our most worthy patron Mr. 
Wedgwood our sincere and grateful acknowledgements 
for the Honour, and in this county unexampled 
favour, he has conferred on us, by putting us in a state 
to serve our King and Country, where every Hand and 
stout Heart should join ; but without this favour we 
had been left, like too many others, unable though 


willing to join our brother Soldgers." In a letter of 
Luff's to Tom Wedgwood we have an animated account 
of a field-day held, in the next summer (May 1 804), 
at and about Gowbarrow Park : 

A very severe day it was, but an excellent dinner of Beef 
and plumb pudding, to which 120 sat down, recruited their 
exhausted strength. What would I not have given to have 
had you on the spot ! [Wedgwood was ill in Dorsetshire.] 
The gratitude of the men was unbounded. William Words- 
worth dined with us on the lawn before the house,* and declared 
it to be the most interesting day he ever witnessed, such as he 
should long remember ; and said he almost envied you your 
feelings on the occasion. 

We may imagine how the poet would be stirred by 
that scene when we remember that it was he who, in 
those memorable sonnets of 1 803, had given voice to 
the emotions aroused by that great national crisis. 

" No parleying now ! In Britain is one breath ; 
We are all with you now from shore to shore ; 
Ye Men of Kent, 'tis victory or death." 

The Wedgwood letters of 1 803 reflect the anxieties 
which must have disturbed hundreds of households, 
especially those near the coasts, during that memorable 

* The house here mentioned is presumably that known as "Lyulph's 
Tower," on the beautiful slope just above that bit of the Ulleswater 
shore which is familiar to all Wordsworth-lovers as the scene of the 

"The Wedgwood Mountaineers" continued to exist till long 
after the fear of an invasion had passed away with the victory of 
Trafalgar. Up till 1812 Josiah Wedgwood, as Tom's executor, 
continued to provide Luff's captain's pay, and find money for other 
expenses in connection with the corps. 


autumn. Tom, who is in London, and hears all kinds 

of speculations as to when and where the French may 
land, is naturally thinking of his mother and sisters 
at Eastbury and his brother's family at Gunville, 
only a few miles from the coast of Dorset. Jos has 
" ordered a tilt for his wagon," in case of having to 
move in bad weather, and is packing up some of the 
most important things, but his old mother is averse to 
moving, and Bess is unwilling to send the children 

'Tom Wedgwood to Josiah Wedgwood 


Oct. 10, 1803. 
DEAR Jos, 

It seems to be the general opinion that the French will land 
somewhere or other. Now your family is on the coast ; have 
you anticipated deliberately all the circumstances immediately 
arising from a landing in your neighbourhood ? I am afraid 
there would be a great deal of distress, great difficulty of 
removal. Your horses would be pressed for service. Might it 
not be wise, in so awful a moment of danger, for your family 
and my mother's to retire to the centre and most secure part 
of the island ? Or at any rate, to make immediate and com- 
plete arrangements for removal, such as packing valuables, etc., 
and perhaps to occupy Cote House for the next critical month. 
For as Pitt said at Margate : Expect the French every dark night. 
Don't suppose that I write in a moment of excessive alarm ; I 
have heard the subject a good deal canvassed lately, and I am 
convinced that some of the stoutest hearts in the Island are 
apprehensive about the event. I have made enquiries about the 
measures of removal, and as far as I can foresee, there will be 
amazing confusion the moment the landing of the French in 
any neighbourhood is proclaimed. Sounding the alarm is no 
doubt very unpleasant : but a balance must be struck. 


Tom's urgency was intelligible, considering that 
Gunville was only some three or four hours' march 
from Poole Harbour. Gloucestershire was a much 
safer place for non-combatants. George III., we may 
remember, had at this time made all arrangements for 
the Queen and Princesses moving from Windsor, at 
a few hours' notice, to the Palace of his friend Bishop 
Hurd, at Worcester. Weekly rehearsals were going 
on at Boulogne of the embarkation of the troops, and 
Pitt, now Warden of the Cinque Ports, was " riding 
up and down the coast of Kent " looking after the 
3000 volunteers of the Walmer district. The prospect 
of seeing the French on English soil was serious enough > 
though some still maintain that the " Armee d'Angle- 
terre " was more or less of a sham, and that Napoleon's 
real object was a great move across the Rhine. * 

Kitty Wedgwood to her brother 'Tom 


Oct. [about iCth (?), 1803]. 

* * * # * 

We are just returned from Lymington, and I own I was 
glad to be at home again without any alarm from the enemy. 
The day after, we had a slight one, which seemed to arise from 
the Blandford Volunteers being ordered to Poole. . . . We feel 
quite unsettled from having a doubt whether we will not retire 

* Which hardly agrees with Napoleon's having had a medal 
struck with the legend : " Descents en Angleterre : frappe a Londres en 
MDCCCIF" (A copy of this medal may be seen at Boulogne, and 
Earl Stanhope has one at Chevening.) Some of the plans imagined 
in France for transporting the troops seem to have been simply insane. 
Mr. Rose's recent " Life of Napoleon " gives a picture of a new 
kind of ship which, according to the figures given, would have a 
deck area of many acres. 


into the interior for the winter. ... I really think that we 
shall feel more anxiety thinking every morning that perhaps 
Dorsetshire is all in confusion. What I most fear is that in 
very bad weather we should really be obliged to go, and my 
mother would perhaps suffer from want of accommodation on 
the road ; besides, the hurry and confusion of the scene or even 
travelling in very cold weather is a great risk for her. She is 
not in the least alarmed, and I believe would dislike the thoughts 
of removing ; but we shall certainly consider whether we had 
not better. Jos will not be here in case of danger [being High 
Sheriff of the county] and it would be one anxiety the less for 

Wedgwood to Josiah Wedgwood 


Oct. 17, Monday, 1803. 
DEAR Jos, 

I am afraid I shall hardly get you a guinea, as Howorth does 
not receive any in York St., nor can any be got at our bank.* 
I had begun a little store before I received yours, and have yet 
only amassed eight. I had no thoughts of your leaving the 
county, and am very glad you are so well prepared for quitting 

I sent the Birds to Mack's also as he has company to-day. 
He says he shall begin Time and Space tomorrow, and has 
invited me to join in the attack, which I totally declined 

'Tom Wedgwood to Josiah Wedgwood 


Oct. 1 8, 1803. 

I don't know what to say about their continuing in Dorset- 
shire. I am afraid my mother's want of apprehension of 

* John Wedgwood's bank in Pall Mall. Howorth is the cashier 
at the York Street show-rooms. 
t Seep. 157. 


danger is derived from a very inadequate consideration of it. 
Mackintosh thinks a landing will certainly be effected, as the 
attack will probably be made at many points. Now, as Kitty 
says, a forced march in mid-winter happening when she may be 
indisposed might be very distressing. I should think Cote 
House tolerably secure, and [they] will much easier move 
forward into the interior. 

Pray prepare Bess and all about you for the horrors that are 
almost inevitable. Bess writes with too much composure for a 
woman who may, even probably, find herself a widow in a week. 
My repugnance to inactivity increases with my strength ; but I 
am still utterly unable to enter into any corps. 


Howorth has a friend who has promised him 20 guineas 
these shall be saved for you, and a few more he has collected. 
What say you to a little bullion, or gold grains ? It is now at 
.4 is. Sd. the ounce. I shall get a few ounces. 

Tom's view prevailed, and before long his mother 
and sisters moved to John's house at Cote, near Bristol. 
There, too, we find Tom himself in November, reading 
the second edition of Malthus on Population, and 
corresponding with military people in London, and 
with Lord Lowther the Lord Lieutenant of Westmore- 
land, about his volunteer corps. Volunteering is the 
great business of the moment. Jos is distracted 
between his duties as Captain of a Staffordshire corps, 
formed from the Etruria works, and as High Sheriff 
of Dorset ; but as " there arc now 230,000 enrolled " 
this was when the population of England was about 
a fourth of its present amount he thinks there is " no 
great necessity for more." 


The family event of that winter was the departure 
of Mackintosh, with his wife and children, for India. 
He had just been made Recorder of Bombay, and there 
was a large muster in London of the Wedgwood-Allen 
families, and of intimate friends, the Sydney Smiths, 
the Horners, and many more, to bid them farewell. 
Some time before this Mackintosh had agreed to write 
an essay expounding Tom Wedgwood's philosophical 
views, about which they had had much discussion, 
orally and in writing, and the following letter, written 
about two years before this time, would seem to imply 
that he had made some kind of beginning of the task. 

font Wedgwood to Sir James Mackintosh. 


December nth, 1801. 

If I was called upon to declare the action which required 
the most good nature and self sacrifice and which originated in 
the purest disinterestedness, I should not hesitate an instant to 
cite your kind attempts to relieve me from my distressing per- 
plexities. I cannot sufficiently admire the kindness of the offer 
nor the unwearied patience of the execution. 

I feel considerably embarrassed in proceeding with the subject 
of my letter. Don't imagine that I feel any repugnance to 
lying under so great an obligation to you ; but in employing 
your time and talents, I am using a fund which is the peculiar 
property of your family. You have already had the satisfaction 
of a completely generous action ; it is my part to prevent 
the interests of your family suffering from its consequences. 
Take then without scruple in its behalf the retainer on the 
other side. I cannot write more at present so extend your 
good nature to giving me credit for wishing to treat your 


feelings with all possible tenderness, and believe me your ever 
obliged and sincere friend, 


Cheque for 100 sent herewith. 

But Mackintosh's departure for India practically put 
an end to this design ; though, as we see from the 
following letter, he seems to have fancied that he 
would be able to accomplish it in what he characteris- 
tically calls the " long and undisturbed leisure " of his 
judicial life at Bombay. 

Sir James Mackintosh to Tom Wedgwood 


ibth Dec., 1803. 

Will you have the patience to read beyond the first line when 
I begin by telling you that our MS. is in the drawer of my library 
table on board the Winchelsea, for the present inaccessible to 
human hand or eye. 

I began in November, not only with the most honest inten- 
tion but with the most anxious and ardent wish, to execute our 
project. I sat down at least ten mornings to do it. I was 
constantly interrupted I was annoyed not merely by the bustle 
of preparation but sometimes by anxieties of so painful a kind 
that they left no quiet for Philosophy. Leisure I could com- 
mand, but tranquillity, which I found equally necessary, was 
not so easily to be had. It would not have been difficult to 
have written something but I could not bring my conscience 
to do injustice to speculations which I estimate so very highly. 
Under these circumstances, after many ineffectual attempts I 
resolved, at the risk of your displeasure, to send the MSS. on 
board ship that I might apply the long and undisturbed leisure 


of Bombay to the undertaking. I did this without consulting 
you, because I was fearful that justly resenting my past in- 
fidelity and distrusting my future faith you might have recalled 
your MSS., which I should have very severely regretted. The 
first moment after my books are placed on their shelves shall 
be devoted to Time and Space. 

They are in the same drawer and will share the same fate 
with all the MSS. I have in the world on Metaphysics Morals 
and Politics. When I have finished them I shall print a dozen 
copies at Bombay for the sake of security and easy transmission 
to Europe. 

Great as my faults have been with respect to your philosophy, 
they are still more in appearance than they are in reality, and 
though I do not know whether with your present knowledge 
you can forgive me, I think I should be certain of your pardon 
if I could communicate to you the whole succession of incidents 
which have frustrated my intention. 

All here join in kindest good wishes to your party, and 
I am 

Dear Wedgwood 

Your's most affectionately 


Of the gathering of friends and relatives to see the 
last of the Mackintoshes we have pleasant glimpses in 
some lively letters of Fanny Allen to her sister Bessy 
in the country. The merriment of Sydney Smith 
helped to brighten the " sadness of farewells," and 
we hear of amusing dinner-table discussions as to the 
comparative virtues of the Allen sisters, and of his, 
Sydney Smith's, final pronouncement on that interesting 


Fanny */[llen to her sister "Bessy (Mrs. Josiah 

II Jan. 1804. "Sydney Smith was in his highest spirits, 
and pleased me particularly by talking of my sisters in the way 
I wish to hear them talked of, as the very first of women. 
' 1 cannot tell you,' he told me, * how much I admire and 
like all your sisters, but I think that Mrs. Jos Wedgwood 
surpasses you all.' " 

25 Jan. 1804. " I kept back [in the previous letter] part of 
the good things he said of you. Mackintosh, Kitty, and I 
dined with the Smiths on Sunday last, and I have scarcely ever 
passed a merrier day. The company, as usual, were Sharp, 
Rogers, Horner, and Boddington. . . . You were again the 
subject of a very warm eulogium from more of the gentlemen 
than S. S. It was a very humorous dispute I will not detail 
it to you because of your unbelief. But Sydney put an end 
to that part of it which treated of the different degrees of 
dependence they could place in you and my other sisters in 
case of any emergency, by declaring he would rely on your 
kindness to nurse him during a fever, and Jenny's only in a 
toothache. This was unanswerable and unanswered." 

The beginning of another year found Tom Wedg- 
wood still in a condition which seemed to be quickly 
passing into a state of despair. His most frequent 
mood, henceforward, is that reflected in the following 

Tom Wedgwood to Josiah Wedgwood 


Jany. 10, 1804. 

* * * * * 

I have endured pangs and torments such as none can con- 
ceive who have never been in like circumstances. These 
nothing shall lead me to renew. As far as the coldest prudence 


can procure me peace, I will have it. I am now endeavouring 
to habituate myself to my near exit without dismay, to separate 
all idea of melancholy and repugnance from an event which 
may put an end to intolerable sensations, to suppress all regret 
of the hopes and pleasures to which my qualifications, if I know 
myself at all, might have been expected to lead me. Vanity 
may influence my opinion, but I have no concealment with 
you ; as far as I know other men and can examine myself, I 
feel very certain that at the age of fifteen I held out more 
promise, and united a greater variety of talent, a more ardent 
longing after all that is beautiful and good, in morals, things, 
and art, than any young man I have ever met with. That this 
should all perish and come to nothing, I should regret in the 
liveliest manner in another and I certainly do still more in 
my own person. But I feel that I have now made every 
possible effort to save myself, and I do not harass myself with 
any further plans. I am interrupted this is a subject on 
which I could write folios, but there is no harm in being 

'Tom Wedgwood to Josiah Wedgwood 


Jany. 23, 1804. 

DEAR Jos, 

* * * * * 

I find myself every day more and more unable to combat 
with my disorder, and I am convinced of the necessity o/ 
keeping my room if not my bed. I cannot think of entering 
on this melancholy scheme at this place it would entirely 
destroy the comfort of the little society here. I propose 
returning with you to Gunville, and making the North room 
as noise-proof as we can. I need not expatiate to you on the 
extreme repugnance I feel at introducing myself and all my 
attendant gloom in the midst of a prosperous family like yours, 
but it is my fate in this life to cast a gloom around me. The 
pains I have taken and the sacrifices I have made to prevent it 



are the only consolation and excuse I have left. What other 

alternative is left me ? 


Though I cannot sit up, nor longer bear to be present a 
lifeless unparticipating thing in living scenes yet I know from 
several trials, that my sufferings in the seasoning to this self- 
entombment, are to be very acute. There may be times, and 
frequently, when I may require your company and patient 
attendance. God only knows the horrors which low spirits 

sometimes produce. At those times solitude is insupportable. 


I feel that my plan has nothing definite if it had, I could 
not bring myself to state it. It is an act of resignation to a 
consuming disorder against which I have kept up a fight of 
twelve years. I shall no longer think of health, but administer 
every present comfort and I imagine this process will give 
such an advantage to my implacable foe, that his complete 
triumph and mine, no less a one, in his victory, must be hastened. 
Perhaps you will send your horses from Bath the chaise will 
meet you when you write to have it. My mother and sisters 
bore the communication as I could wish with feeling and 
composure. My kindest love to Bess. I stop because my 
powers and paper are exhausted or I could converse with 
you for a month without a stop. 

These are terrible letters, for a man only in his 
thirty-second year. Josiah's reply to them is, as 
always, deeply sympathetic, though he can only 
bid his brother struggle on. The one bright spot 
in this story of a wrecked life is the unwearying 
kindness with which the sick man's relatives and 
friends strove to do all that was possible to mitigate 
his sufferings. Outside his family, Poole, perhaps, 
was the most devoted of his friends, always on the 
alert to seek some way of cheering or helping him 


under the constant struggle. Coleridge's affection 
for him must have been deep and lasting, whatever 
we may think of the over-effusive manner of its 
expression. And there are signs that from various 
less intimate associates, Sharp, Campbell, and others, 
he met with much real sympathy and kindness. 
Josiah's devotion to his brother Tom was an absorbing 
passion, and was Tom's greatest solace. "I find" 
(he says to Josiah, Nov. 4, 1804), "that yourself and 
Sally always move me most to think of a love more than 
mortal, which cannot flourish in this chilling world, 
and must survive it. Your deep affection, and Sally's 
angelic kindness, give a certain value to life in its most 
trying moments.*' In a letter of this year Sally had 
said to him : " I have sometimes feared I must have 
appeared insensible to your sufferings, when my 
taciturnity has really been owing partly to the family 
infirmity." The affectionate terms on which he stood 
with Bessy Wedgwood are shown in the following 
letter, while her reply is significant of the warm and 
sympathetic nature which made her perhaps the best 
beloved member of that united family : 

Tom Wedgwood to Mrs. Josiah Wedgwood 


[Dated, in another hand, Feb. 17, 1804]. 

Pray come and stay as long as you can. Don't imagine 
for a moment that you can ever be in my way. I look upon 
you as no half-sister. I have even felt towards you as sister in 
full, with all rights and privileges, and, also, with a claim on 
you for duties and attentions as such. After ten years intimacy 


I am less inclined than ever to love you by halves. You must 
not judge always of my feelings towards you by my manners 
and exterior. These are under the control of sufferings greater 
than you have ever imagined them and my temper is nearly 
gone in the general wreck. I cannot now write more, nor is 
there to you any occasion. Everybody finds you all kindness, 
and the deficiencies in kindness and respect at times from me 
have been forgotten and forgiven by you before I had either 
forgotten or forgiven them myself. 

Ever your's most affectly, 

T. W. 

Mrs. Josiah Wedgwood to Tom Wedgwood 


Feby. 20, 1804. 

I was more gratified than you can imagine by the few kind 
lines I received from you yesterday, made doubly valuable by 
the inconvenience (to use the lightest expression) with which 
you write at present. It was impossible for a moment to doubt 
of your kindness, but a real want of self-confidence makes it 
soothing and delightful to me to receive so touching an assur- 
ance of it, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I 
cannot enter into the sympathy with which I consider your 
sufferings, it is deep and sincere, nor would anything I think, 
in this world, make me so happy as to see you restored to 
health and enjoyment. I wished very much to have gone 
with Jos to Cote, but I am deterred by the uncertainty I am 
in as to poor Kitty's movements at Ryde,* as I believe the 
wind is entirely against their sailing, and if it continues in a 
settled point I should not wonder if she were to come here. 
She has also been so very anxious to see some of us, that I am 
afraid of putting it out of my power to go there if I find that 
I cannot resist her affectionate entreaties. 

* Lady Mackintosh is just sailing from Spithead for Bombay. 


A sentence in a letter of Bessy Wedgwood to her 
husband well shows the feeling which this warm- 
hearted and unselfish woman had for her sorely 
afflicted brother-in-law. Such an absorbing attach- 
ment as that of Josiah to Tom might have made 
some wives jealous, and she seems to have had a fear 
it was, of course, quite groundless that Jos might 
imagine this possibility in her case. " I am very glad/* 
she says, " that you acquit me of all jealousy with 
respect to dear Tom. I really deserve it, for there 
are no sacrifices I would not make to be of any use to 
him compatible with my other duties." * The situa- 
tion had its difficulties, and it must have needed her 
unalterable sweetness of character and tact to avoid 
friction. Tom, for one thing, made the Gunville 
nursery a field of philosophical study, observing 
and recording the doings of its little inhabitants as 
material for working out his various psychological 
and educational theories. If little Bess was out of 
temper, or Joe disobedient to his governess, he would 
note the incident as illustrating some principle of child- 
training, and perhaps propound a plan for correcting 
the infant's evil tendencies, based on the principles of 
Locke, Hartley, or Rousseau. An uncle given to these 
pursuits must have been at times a troublesome guest, 
and family tradition tells us that even the sweet- 
tempered Bessie sometimes found Tom's frequent 
incursions into her nursery embarrassing. 

* Letter of September I, 1800 (Darwin MSS.). 


1804 1805 

COLERIDGE and Tom Wedgwood never met, apparently, 
after their parting at PatterdaJe in January 1803. 
Coleridge came to London in January 1804, bent 
on making a voyage to a warm climate for the sake 
of his health. He writes thus from the office in 
Westminster where Poole was carrying on his statis- 
tical poor-law work. 

Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 




Wednesday afternoon, 

[25 Jan.] 1804. 


Some divines hold that with God to think and to create are 
one and the same act. If to think and even to compose had 
been the same as to write with me, I should have written as 
much too much as I have now written too little. The whole 
Truth of the matter is that I have been very, very ill ; your 
letter remained four days unread, I was so ill. What effect 
it had upon me I cannot express by words ; it lay under my 
pillow day after day. I should have written 20 times, but 


as it often and often happens with me, my heart was too full 
and I had so much to say that I said nothing. I never received 
a delight that lasted longer upon me, " brooded on my mind 
and made it pregnant," than the six last sentences of your 
Letter, which I cannot apologize for not having answered, for 
I should be canting calumnies against myself, for for the last six 
or seven weeks I have both thought and felt more concerning 
you, and relatively to you, than of all other men put together. 
Somehow or other, whatever plan I determined to adopt, my 
fancy, good-natured Pandar of our wishes, always linked you 
on to it ; or I made it your Plan, and linked myself on. 

I left my home December 20, 1803, intending to stay a day 
and a half at Grasmere, and then to walk to Kendal, whither I 
had sent all my Cloaths and Viatica ; from thence to go to 
London, and to see whether or no I could arrange my pecuniary 
matters so as leaving Mrs. Coleridge all that was necessary to 
her comforts, to go myself to Madeira, having a persuasion 
strong as the life within me, that one winter spent in a really 
warm, genial climate, would compleatly restore me. Words- 
worth had, as I may truly say, forced on me a hundred Pound, 
in the event of my going to Madeira ; and Stuart had kindly 
offered to befriend me ; and during the days and affrightful 
nights of my disease, when my Limbs were swoln and my 
stomach refused to retain the food taken in in sorrow, then I 
looked with pleasure on the scheme. But as soon as dry frosty 
weather came, or the rains and damps passed off, and I was 
filled with elastic Health from Crown to Sole, then the 
Thought of the weight of pecuniary Obligation, having 
hitherto given no positive proof that I was a fit moral object 
of so much exertion from so many people, revisited me. 

But I have broken off my story. I stayed at Grasmere a 
month, f ths of the time bed-ridden ; and deeply do I feel the 
enthusiastic kindness of Wordsworth's Wife and Sister, who 
sate up by me, one or the other, in order to awaken me at the 
first symptoms of distressful Feeling ; and even when they 
went to rest, continued often and often to weep and watch for 


me even in their dreams. I left them, Saturday, Jan. 1 4th, and 
have spent a very pleasant week at Dr. Crompton's, at Liver- 
pool, and arrived at Poole's lodgings last night, at 8 o'clock. 

Though my right hand is so much swoln that I can scarcely 
keep my pen steady between my Thumb and Forefinger, yet 
my Stomach is easy, and my Breathing comfortable ; and I am 
eager to hope all good things of my health ; and that gained, 
I have a cheering, and I trust prideless confidence that I shall 
make an active perseverant use of the faculties and acquirements 
that have been entrusted to my keeping, and a fair trial of their 
Heighth, Depth, and Width. Indeed I look back on the last 
four months with honest Pride, seeing how much I have done, 
with what steady attachment of mind to the same subject, and 
under what vexations and sorrows from without, and amid 
what inward sufferings. So much of myself. When I know 
more, I will tell you more. 

I find you are still at Cote, and Poole tells me you talk of 
Jamaica as a summer excursion. If it were not for the Voyage, 
I would that you would go to Madeira, for from the Hour I 
get on board the vessel to the time that I once more feel 
England beneath my feet, I am as certain as past and unvary- 
ing experience can make me, that I shall be in Health, in high 
Health ; and then I am sure, not only that I should be a 
comfort to you, but that I should be so without Diminution 
of my activity or professional usefulness. Briefly, dear Wedg- 
wood ! I truly and at heart love you, and of course it must add 
to my deeper and moral happiness to be with you, if I can be 
either assistance or alleviation. If I find myself so well that I 
defer my Madeira Plan, I shall then go forthwith to Devon- 
shire to see my aged mother once more before she dies, and 
stay two or three months with my Brothers. But wherever I 
am, I never suffer a day (except when I am travelling) to pass 
without doing something. 

Poole made me promise that I would leave one side for him, 
and preciously I have remembered it. God bless him ! He 
looks so worshipful in his office, among his Clerks, that it 


would give you a few minutes' good spirits at least to look 
in upon him. I pray you as soon as you can command your 
pen, give me half a score Lines, and now that I am loose^ say 
whether or no I can be any good to you. 


This letter, I imagine, crossed one from Tom in 
which he told Coleridge of his despairful resolve to 
shut himself up at Gunville and to give up struggling 
with his disease. This Coleridge answers in a strain 
of passionate protest : 

S. T. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 




Saturday, Jan. 28, 1804. 

It is idle for me to say to you, that my Heart and very soul 
ache with the dull pain of one struck down and stunned. I 
write to you, for my letter cannot give you unmixed Pain, and 
I would fain say a few words to dissuade you. What good 
can possibly come of your plan ? Will not the very chairs and 
furniture of your room be shortly more, far more intolerable to 
you than new and changing objects ! more insufferable Reflec- 
tors of Pain and Wearisomeness of Spirit? Oh, most certainly 
they will ! You must hope, my dearest Wedgwood ; you must 
act as if you hoped ! Despair itself has but that advice to give 
you. Have you ever thought of trying large doses of opium 
in a hot climate, with a diet of grapes, and the fruits of the 
climate ? 

Is it impossible that by drinking freely you might at last 
produce Gout, and that a violent Pain and Inflammations in 
the extremities might produce new trains of motion and feeling 


in your stomach, and the organs connected with the stomach, 
known and unknown ? Worse than what you have decreed 
for yourself cannot well happen. Say but a word, and I will 
come to you, will be with you, will go with you to Malta 
to Madeira to Jamaica, or (of the climate of which and its 
strange effects I have heard wonders, true or not) to Egypt. 

At all events, and at the worst, even if you do attempt to 
realize the scheme of going to and remaining at Gunville, for 
God's sake, my dear dear friend ! do keep up a correspondence 
with one or more ; or if it were possible for you, with several. 
I know by a little what your sufferings are ; and that to shut the 
eyes and stop up the ears is to give one's self up to storm and 
darkness and the lurid forms and horrors of a Dream. Poole 
goes off to-night, but I shall send this Letter by the Post. 

I scarce know why it is a feeling I have and hardly under- 
stand I could not endure to live if I had not a firm Faith 
that the Life within you will pass forth out of the Furnace : 
for that you have borne what you have borne, and so acted 
beneath such Pressure, constitutes you an awful moral Being. 
I am not ashamed to pray aloud for you. 

Your most affectionate Friend, 


Poole will call on you some time before Dinner on Monday, 
for an hour, unless he hear from you a wish to the contrary, 
addressed to him at Mr. King's, No. 12 RedclifFe Parade. 

Eight weeks after this Coleridge was leaving England 
for Malta. Two or three days before his departure 
he writes thus : 

S. ?*. Coleridge to 'Tom Wedgwood 

[No date: Postmark 24 Mch, 1804.] 

Though fearful of breaking in upon you, after what you have 
written to me, I could net have left England without having 


written both to you and your Brother. I received your 
letter at the very moment I received a note from Sharp inform- 
ing [me] that I must instantly secure a place in the Ports- 
mouth Mail for Tuesday, and if I could not, that I must do so 
in the Light Coach for Tuesday early morning. 

I am agitated by many things, and only write now because 
you desired an answer by return of Post. I have been dan- 
gerously ill, but the illness is going about, and not connected 
with my immediate ill health, however it may be with my 
general Constitution. It was the cholera morbus. But for a 
series of the merest accidents I should have been seized in the 
Streets, in a bitter East wind with cold rain ; at all events have 
walked through it struggling with the seizure it was Sunday 
night and have suffered it at Tobin's, Tobin sleeping out at 
Woolwich, no fire, no wine or spirit, or medicine of any kind, 
and no human Being within call. But luckily perhaps the 
occasion would better suit the word providentially Tuffin 
took me home with him. After the first painful Fit 

[Here he describes the attack.] 


But however this is rather a History of the past than of the 
present. I have now only enough for memento, and already 
on Wednesday I considered myself in clear sunshine, out of 
the Shadow of the Wings of the Destroying Angel. What 
else relates to myself I will write on Monday. 

Would to heaven you were going with me to Malta, if it 
were not for the voyage ! For all other things I could make 
the passage with an unwavering mind, not without chearings 
of Hope. Let me mention one thing. Lord Cadogan was 
brought to absolute Despair and Hatred of Life by a Stomach 
Complaint, being now an old man. The symptoms, as stated 
to me, were strikingly like yours, considering the enormous 
difference of the two characters ; the same flitting Fevers, dire 
costiveness with Diarrhoea, Dejection, compelled Changes, &c. 
He was advised to reduce lean Beef to a pure jelly by Papin's 
digester, with as little water as would secure it from burning, 


and of this to take half a wine glass from 10 to 14 times a day ; 
this and nothing else. He did so. Sir George Beaumont saw 
within a few weeks a letter from Lord C. to Lord St. Asaph, 
in which he states the circumstance, his perseverance in it, 
rapid amelioration, and final recovery. " I am now," he says, 
" in real good Health ; as good, and in as chearful spirits as 
ever I was when a young man." Mingay, the medical man ot 
Thetford, was his attendant. I could give you all particulars. 
May God bless you, even here, 


This is the latest letter of Coleridge among the 
Wedgwood papers. He did not return to England 
till after Tom Wedgwood's death. When in Malta 
he wrote but little to any friends or relations, and 
probably not at all to Tom or his brother. 

The rest of the year 1804 shows no lightening of 
the gloom which is the dominant note of Tom Wedg- 
wood's letters. He was now resorting to opium as a 
relief from his sufferings, but to what extent or how 
continuously he took it is not clear. " The quantity 
not exceeding four grains often proves," he says^ 
" wholly insufficient to produce any tolerable ex- 
hilaration." At times the language in which he 
describes his sufferings (to his brother Josiah) is such 
as might well suggest a doubt of his complete sanity, 
as when he says " the nature of my miseries is too 
shocking for communication " ; but the tone of other 
letters dealing with affairs of ordinary life shows, I 
think, that there was no definitely mental disturbance. 
A frequent topic in the family correspondence of this 
time was " the disordered state of John's affairs." 
John had not the faculty of keeping his expenditure 


within his income, and his chronic state of embar- 
rassment was a constant source of anxiety to his 
brothers and sisters. In a letter of May 1804, to 
Josiah, Tom discusses this matter, and does so in a 
thoroughly rational way. It is the letter of a man in 
complete command of his faculties. He proposes to 
lend his brother " some thousands," in order to " bring 
his affairs completely round." He thinks John " should 
abandon Cote, and perhaps might be induced to live 
at Etruria." " Jane has given up all hope of his ever 
regulating his expenditure." * 

It was at this time Leslie brought out the book 
embodying the results of the investigations which the 
annuity given him by Tom Wedgwood had enabled him 
to carry on for some seven years past at his home in 
Fifeshire. It appeared under the title of " An Inquiry 
into Heat and Electricity," and it established his 
position as a natural philosopher. In a letter of 
March (1804) he had sent Wedgwood a draft of the 
dedication, written in his usual portentously ornate 
style, asking, " What alteration do you wish ? " This 
inquiry seems to have remained unanswered, as in 
another letter Leslie alludes to Wedgwood's having, 
" with uncommon delicacy," declined to read the draft. 
In the dedication as printed, he refers vaguely to being 
under obligation to Wedgwood, but does not mention 
the annuity or make any allusion to money help.f 

* John Wedgwood gave up Cote House shortly after this. He 
had a great love of planting and gardening, and was the founder, or 
had most to do with the founding, of the Royal Horticultural 
Society. His name appears still on the Society's papers. He died 
in the year 1844. 

t Nor, strange to say, is there a word about it in the Memoir 


As the year (1804) went on he was again, notwith- 
standing all previous disappointments, making plans of 
travel ; and this always involved finding a travelling 
companion. The discovering of a suitable person was 
a matter of infinite trouble, the difficulties always 
attending companionship in travel being aggravated 
in this case by his sad condition, and his more or less 
fastidious tastes. He was a great lover of music, and 
himself a player on the violin and flute. He generally 
tried to find some one who was accomplished in that 
art, while having enough knowledge and intelligence 
to afford the chance of rational conversation. So the 
problem was a complicated one. At one time he seems 
to have thought of getting a lady to travel with him. 
This idea, however, the discreet Josiah did not think 
one to be encouraged. 

Josiah to Tom Wedgwood 



July 19, 1804. 

Susan [Darwin, their sister] does not at present recollect 
any female at all likely to answer your purpose except a young 
woman that has lived as nurse and companion with Miss 

(Edinb., 1838) by Macvey Napier, who knew Leslie intimately, and 
" had the advantage " (he says) " of all the information possessed by 
the family." Napier represents him (p. 14 of the Memoir) as living 
during these years on the fruits of his own work, which shows that 
the biographer knew nothing of the annuity, though it was the thing 
that had determined Leslie's career. 

* A country house a few miles from the Potteries, which Josiah 
had lately bought, and which ultimately became the home of his 
family till the death of his widow in 1 846. 


Pannell, and has in that situation learnt French and some 
other accomplishments. She has left Miss P. on some quarrel, 
but Miss P. is endeavouring to get her again. If she should 
not go to Miss P. I imagine she would not be likely to consent 
to accompany you, as indeed I think no young person can 
with safety do. Her brothers are bringing up to the Church ; 
she left Miss P. on account of some slight, real or supposed ; 
and I should suppose she or her family would be very scrupulous 
as to appearances and character. I will make what enquiry I 
can, and I understand that you mean male or female. As to 
Dugard [a doctor at Shrewsbury] I believe there is no chance 
of his quitting his present prospects. 

Would not a change of place be useful to you now ? Susan 
will in all probability leave us in a week and we can keep the 
house tolerably quiet and give you a quiet bedroom. My 
mother remains very well. Susan as usual. All unite in love 
to Jane and you. 

Your affectionate, 

J. W. 

P.S. The Etruria were inspected with the Hanley and Lane 
End Volunteers yesterday who have been on permanent duty. 
I think we are in no respect worse than them, and in steady 
orderly conduct and keeping our arms in order very far their 
superiors. Col. Broughton said he had seen no volunteers 
with their arms so well taken care of as ours. 

Nothing more was heard, apparently, of the lady- 
companion scheme. During the most of this year 
Tom divided his time between Gunville, Eastbury, and 
Cote ; but in the first days of October he set off for 
Westmoreland to stay with the Luffs, partly that he 
might see how his corps of "Loyal Volunteers" was 
getting on with its training. When there " he wrote " 
(says his brother) " an address to the Company, pointing 



out the advantages and necessity of strict discipline, 
but was too ill to speak it to them, and Captain Luff 
had to read it for him." On this visit to Patterdale 
he is again smitten with the beauty of the lovely land 
of lakes and mountains, and has dreams of making it 
his place of abode. " This country is heavenly beau- 
tiful, I would buy here if I could have a day's health 
a week." 

One of the sweetest nooks in that delightful region 
is a little farm, called Bleawick, close to the head of 
Ulleswater ; a homestead surrounded by a few acres of 
pasture sloping to the water's edge, sheltered from east 
winds by the overhanging mass of Place Fell, and 
looking across at Glen Ridding and the crests of 
Helvellyn. This little place, which is as charming 
now as it must have been in 1804, was then for sale, 
and Tom seems to have tried to buy it. He writes to 
Jos (November 5) putting to him a case of conscience. 
A friend is after it, " but while he is shilly-shallying, 
other purchasers may carry it off." Is he bound, he 
asks, to let Mr. A. go on with the negotiation without 
having a try for it himself? The project, however, 
came to nothing. Meanwhile, he found the home of 
the kind Luffs a welcome retreat, and he was generous 
in helping them in their poverty. He lent them, which 
must have meant giving them, several hundred pounds. 
QThis is but one of many instances which occur in 
the letters testifying to his liberality in assisting friends 
and others in trouble. Basil Montagu and Godwin 
were among those whom he helped. In one of his 
letters to Godwin he prefaces a gift of ^100 by some 
admirable reasons for not giving it : 



I have no opinion of the good, upon the whole, resulting 
from great facility in the opulent in yielding to requests of the 
needy. I have no doubt that it is best that every one should 
anticipate with certainty the pinch and pressure of distress 
from indulging in indolence, or even from misfortune. It is 
this, certainly, which quickens the little wit that man is 
ordinarily endowed with and calls out all his energies. And 
were it removed by the idea that the rich held funds for the 
distressed, I am convinced that not only half the industry of 
the country would be destroyed, but also that misfortunes 
would be doubled in quantity. I confess to you I have always 
a doubt of the value of any donation or loan at the same 

time - /^j^^mg^ ' 

But after this exposition of perfectly sound principles, 
which we may guess would not particularly please the 
philosopher, he explains how strong is his natural 
desire to give relief to suffering, and how in Godwin's 
case he can't resist the impulse, and so he sends him 
the hundred pounds.^} 

'{Another friend whom we find him helping more 
than once was Campbell, the poet. A letter from him 
appealing for a loan of jioo discloses a singular excuse 
for the request. A lady who had lent Campbell ^100, 
and " is since mad," is publishing accounts of his 
"baseness, dishonesty, and ingratitude," calumnies 
which it is "not easy for him to refute," the debt 
being real. So he asks Wedgwood for ^100 to relieve 
him from this objectionable woman. "This letter," 
he says, " is, I must own, a thunderbolt of indelicacy," 
a phrase which is explained by his alluding to a note 

* Letter of April 25, 1804: Kegan Paul's "Godwin," ii. 125. 
A year later (K. P., ii. 141) we find another "loan " in progress. 



for 100 which Wedgwood him sent him a year 
previously. Wedgwood lent him the money. But 
Campbell was not a borrower of the Godwin type, 
and three months later he repaid it " with a heart full 
of gratitude.^j 

It was in July 1805, that Tom Wedgwood's poor 
broken life came to an end. It had been long appa- 
rent that his struggle for health was a hopeless one. 
But he never gave it up. He again planned a voyage 
to the West Indies, had secured a companion, was on 
the point of leaving Gunville to embark, when the 
mortal stroke came, suddenly and painlessly. Here is 
the letter in which his affectionate sister-in-law sent the 
news to her relatives at Cresselly. 

Mrs. Jos. Wedgwood to her sister Emma Allen 


Wednesday, July 10, 1805. 


John [their brother] arrived yesterday to carry away our 
Fan from me, which is a great damper to the pleasure his 
company always gives me. [Here she breaks off.] 

Friday ye I2th. I was writing to you on Wednesday morn- 
ing, when all the agreeable feelings with which I sat down to 
the employment, were cruelly dampt by the sad intelligence 
that poor Tom was so ill that there was no hope of his re- 
covery. He had not been worse than usual, and we thought 
him rather better, from the custom he had taken up of going 
out every day with Jos in the gig ; but on Monday I think he 
got a little chilled, which brought on much internal pain, and 
left him weak. On Tuesday night Joe parted with him with 
an engagement as usual to go and breakfast at Wood Gates, 


but at midnight he rang his bell, and told his servant to give 
him something, for he was very weak, but not ill. He told 
him also to come in in two hours time, and see how he was, 
and to call Jos at 5. The servant did so, and found him as he 
thought sleeping, but in fact he was then without any sign of 
sense except that he still breathed. When Jos came he also 
thought him sleeping, and sat down an hour and half beside 
him, before he discovered that he was not ; when he did he 
became alarmed and sent for Dr. Crawford, who immediately 
said he was dying. He continued in that state, his head quietly 
reposing on his arm, till seven in the evening, when he expired 
without seeming to have suffered the least pain. What a day 
for poor Jos, watching him dying for 12 hours. They have 
all had such a preparation for this stroke by the long suffer- 
ings he has undergone, that it ought only to be now 
considered as a relief, though it is grievous just at the 
time; but I quite feel it a blessing to us and to him that 
he died now, before he went aboard-ship, rather than to 
have suffered all the pain of parting and then perhaps to 
have sunk under the first attack of seasickness, which I now 
suppose would certainly have been the case. We have pre- 
vailed on his mother and sisters to come down here, till 
they go to Staffordshire, which they now mean to do as 
soon as they can. On Tuesday will be the Funeral, and we 
wish them to go before that, as we are so near the Church. 
He is to be buried in the Vault belonging to this place. He has 
left his fortune equally between all his brothers and sisters, and 
he has left a discretionary fund in Jos's hands to supply the 
generous purposes that his death would otherwise have cut short, 
to assist a great number who have often felt his bounty before. 
He has also left a Memorandum with Jos that Edward Drewe * 

* Caroline Allen, a sister of Mrs. Jos. and Mrs. John Wedgwood,, 
married Edward Drewe, Rector of Broadhembury, near Honiton. 
One of her daughters (Georgina) married Baron Alderson, and was 
the mother of the late Marchioness of Salisbury ; another was wife 
of the first Lord Gifford. 


is to have ^20, Caroline ^20 as a remembrance from him, and 
each of their daughters a hundred a piece. This Caroline does 
not yet know, as I did not hear it till to-day ; but I am more 
gratified at it than I can express, as I know it will give Caroline 
so much pleasure to have been remembered by him. Indeed 
the more I think of him the more his character rises in my 
opinion ; he really was too good for this world. Such a crowd 
of feelings and remembrances fill my mind while I am recalling 
all his past kindnesses to me and mine, and to all his acquaint- 
ance, that I feel myself quite unfit to make his panegyric, but 
I trust my children will ever remember him with veneration 
as an honour to the family to which he belonged. I have been 
writing to Kitty Mackintosh, as the fleet is not yet sailed, and 
to others; and I feel nervous and shaken, so if I write in- 
coherently you must excuse it. 

Ever yours, 

E. W. 

Such a death could be thought of by his friends 
only as a happy release. Twenty years of childhood 
and youth, and fourteen of struggle with disease, 
made up the whole of his life of thirty-four years. 
Though he himself never quite despaired, there could 
have been no real hope of betterment. The struggle 
might conceivably have been prolonged, but we cannot 
imagine him regaining the power of effective work. 
" As to your poor brother's death," wrote Sydney 
Smith to Jos Wedgwood, " it is difficult to know 
in what light to consider it. It is painful to lose 
such a man, but who would have wished to pre- 
serve him at such a price of misery and pain ? He 
will not easily be forgotten. I know no man who 
appears to have made such an impression upon his 


A few years after Tom Wedgwood's death, a re- 
markable description of his character and powers, but 
without a mention of his name, was appended by 
Coleridge to one of his Essays in "The Friend." 
The passage is as follows it has no formal heading 
or introduction : 

A lady once asked me if I believed in ghosts and apparitions. 
I answered with truth and simplicity : No, madam ! I have 
seen far too many myself. I have indeed a whole memorandum 
book filled with records of these phaenomena, many of them 
interesting as facts and data for psychology, and affording some 
valuable materials for a theory of perception and its dependence 
on the memory and imagination. In omnem actum perceptions 
imagmatio influit efficienter ; says Wolff". But he is no more, 
who would have realised this idea : who had already established 
the foundations and the law of the theory ; and for whom I 
had so often found a pleasure and a comfort, even during the 
wretched and restless nights of sickness, in watching and in- 
stantly recording these experiences of the world within us, of 
the gemma natura y qua fit et facit, et creat et creatur ! He is 
gone, my friend; my munificent co-patron, and not less 
the benefactor of my intellect ! He who, beyond all other 
men known to me, added a fine and ever-wakeful sense of 
beauty to the most patient accuracy in experimental philosophy 
and the profounder researches of metaphysical science ; he who 
united all the play and spring of fancy with the subtlest dis- 
crimination and an inexorable judgment; and who controlled 
an almost painful exquisiteness of taste by a warmth of heart, 
which in the practical relations of life made allowances for 
faults as quickly as the moral taste detected them ; a warmth 
of heart, which was indeed noble and pre-eminent, for alas! 
the genial feelings of health contributed no spark toward it. 
Of these qualities I may speak, for they belonged to all man- 
kind. The higher virtues, that were blessings to his friends, 
and the still higher that resided in and for his own soul, are 


themes for the energies of solitude, for the awfulness of prayer ! 
virtues exercised in the barrenness and desolation of his animal 
being; while he thirsted with the full stream at his lips, and 
yet with unwearied goodness poured out so all around him, 
like the master of a feast among his kindred in the day of 
his own gladness ! Were it but for the remembrance of him 
alone and of his lot here below, the disbelief in a future state 
would sadden the earth around me, and blight the very grass in 
the field.* 

Part of the thought that inspired these moving 
words is to be found in a letter of Coleridge, written 
some years earlier, to his and Wedgwood's friend 
Richard Sharp : 

Of our common friends, my dear Sir, I flatter myself that 
you and I should agree in fixing on T. Wedgwood and on 
Wordsworth as genuine Philosophers, for I have often said (and 
no wonder, since not a day passes but the conviction of the 
truth of it is renewed in me, and with this conviction the 

* " The Friend," vol. i. p. 24.9 (ed. 1818). In this reprint the name 
of Wedgwood is not given ; and I suppose it was not in the original. 
It appears in a footnote in the edition of 1850, vol. i. p. 190. " The 
Friend " first appeared in June 1809, and was described in its title as 
"A Literary, Moral, and Political Paper, excluding Personal and 
Party Politics and the Events of the Day. Conducted by S. T. Cole- 
ridge, of Grasmere, Westmoreland. Price, each number One Shilling. 
Penrith : Printed and Published by J. Brown and will be delivered 
free of expense by post throughout the kingdom to Subscribers." It 
ceased to appear in 1810. Its early death was not surprising. Cole- 
ridge and J. Brown lived 28 miles apart, with Kirkstone Pass between 
them. The proofs travelled to and fro, sometimes by the weekly 
post, sometimes by the carrier, and sometimes by a casual post-chaise. 
Coleridge was habitually late with his " copy," and the interval 
between the issues varied from one to seven weeks. But the 
papers published in this absurd fashion contained some of his most 
characteristic utterances; and in its book form "The Friend" 
had, as the century went on, a lasting influence on the thought of 
the time. 


accompanying esteem and love), often have I said that 
T. Wedgwood's faults impress me with veneration for his 
moral and intellectual character more than almost any other 
man's virtues; for under circumstances like this, to have a 
fault only in that degree is, I doubt not, in the eye of God, to 
possess a high virtue. Who does not prize the retreat of 
Moreau more than all the straw-blaze of Napoleon's vic- 
tories ? And then to make it (as Wedgwood really does) a 
sort of crime even to think of his faults by so many virtues 
retained, cultivated and preserved in growth and blossom, 
n a climate where now the gusts so rise and eddy, that 
deeply rooted must that be which is not snatched up and 
made a plaything of by them and, now, " the parching air 
burns frore." 

W. Wordsworth does not excite that almost painfully pro- 
found moral admiration which the sense of the exceeding 
difficulty of a given virtue can alone call forth, and which, 
therefore, I feel exclusively towards T. Wedgwood.* 

Another expression of Coleridge's feeling as to his 
dead friend appears in a letter written in 1 809, about 
four years later, to Sir Humphrey Davy, just after he 
had heard of the death of Beddoes. After expressing 
his deep attachment to Beddoes and the emotion with 
which he heard of his death, he says, "The death of 
T. Wedgwood pulled hard at my heart ; I am sure no 
week of my life almost I might have said scarce a 
day [has passed] in which I have not been made either 
sad or thoughtful by the recollection. . . . There are 
two things which I exceedingly wished, and in both 

* Letters of S. T. C., p. 448. An estimate of Wordsworth's 
character follows. " The parching air burns frore," is from Mil- 
ton's description of the icy region of Hell in " Paradise Lost," 
Book ii. 


have been disappointed : to have written the Life and 
prepared the Psychological Remains of my revered 
friend and benefactor, T. W. : and to have been in- 
trusted with the biography, etc., of Dr. B." * 

* " Fragmentary Remains, &c., of Sir H. Davy," by John Davy, 
M.D., 1858, pp. 108, no. 


OF Wedgwood's photographic work we know hardly 
any more than is discoverable from the " Account " in 
the Journal of the Royal Institution for 1802. 

It was evidently only an episode in his life. In his 
letters I find no allusion to it ; nor do I find anything 
in his handwriting relating to his experiments in physics, 
save only the " Memorandum " of 1792 as to his giving 
up experimenting (ante, p. 21). But in a letter of 
November 18, 1800, written by Leslie in London to 
Wedgwood at Gunville, there is a sentence which 
presumably refers to the photographic work. "A 
few days ago I left at York Street an object-glass and 
some thin cylinders for the solar microscope, and half 
a dozen bits of painted glass which will, I think, suit 
you. I have more pieces, which you may have at any 
time." This makes it probable that Wedgwood's 
photographic experiments, in which coloured glasses 
and the microscope were used, were going on at about 
that time ; and various letters show that he came to 
town on November 17, 1800, and stayed there till 
December 8 or later. Another little piece of evidence, 
however, points to photographic work some ten years 
earlier than that. During the discussions of 18645 
on what were called the " Early Photographs " (see 


Appendix C.), there was produced at a meeting of 
the Photographic Society a letter, written by James 
Watt, apparently in 1 7 90 or 1 7 9 1 , to Josiah Wedgwood, 
and beginning with the following words : " Dear Sir, 
I thank you for your instructions as to the Silver 
Pictures, about which, when at home, I will make some 
experiments." (The rest of the letter is about a mill 
at Etruria.) This letter has the date " Thursday" 
only, but it is described as having been " docketed 
by Josiah Wedgwood, Jan. 1790," which date Mr. 
Hensleigh Wedgwood, the owner of the letter, after- 
wards corrected to 1791.* Tom Wedgwood was 
certainly working at questions of light and heat 
during the years preceding 1792, and as nitrate of 
silver was used in his later experiments we can hardly 
avoid the inference that the "silver pictures" men- 
tioned by Watt were early photographic attempts. 
These pictures would naturally excite interest in the 
Wedgwood circle, and Watt, an intimate family friend, 
had probably asked for information about them. The 
question, however, of the exact date of the experi- 
ments is of no special interest, there being no doubt 

* It is not known where this letter of Watt's now is. I quote it 
from the Report in the Photographic Journal of the meeting of the 
Society, January 5, 1864. It was obtained by Dr. Diamond, the 
Secretary, from the late Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood (son of Josiah), but 
Dr. Diamond appears not to have returned it. The theory which it 
was produced to support having been clearly disproved, there would be 
no special reason for preserving it. There seems to have been some 
doubt as to its date, for Miss Meteyard (" Group of Englishmen," 
p. 130) describes it as "docketed 1799." If this was the date, it 
must have been addressed to the younger Josiah, the father having 
died 1795. If written in 1790 or 1791 it might have been addressed 
either to the old or to the young Josiah, but more probably to the 


as to the date of the first announcement of the process 
to the world. 

This was made in a paper of June 1802, printed in 
the first volume of the " Journals of the Royal Insti- 
tution." No name is appended to it, but as Humphrey 
Davy, then a young man of twenty-three, was at the 
time Assistant Editor of the Journal, and as the 
* Account " was included, after his death, in the 
collected edition of his works, we may take it to 
have been written by him. 

Presumably the experiments were made in the 
Laboratory of the "Royal Institution." The Insti- 
tution had been founded three years previously, and 
it occupied from the first the building in Albemarle 
Street which is still its home. Josiah Wedgwood 
(Tom's brother) was one of the first "Proprietors," 
subscribing a hundred guineas to its funds. Davy 
became "Assistant Lecturer" there early in 1802. 
The Wedgwoods had known him when he was an 
apothecary's apprentice at Penzance, and Tom must 
have seen much of him when he was employed by 
Dr. Beddoes in the " Pneumatic Institute " at Bristol. 

The second volume of Davy's collected works, 
<edited by his brother (9 vols., 1839-40) is, so far 
.as I know, the only book in which the paper has been 
reprinted, and the original volume of Journals is to be 
found in but few libraries. The " Account " has thus 
been virtually inaccessible to ordinary readers, and one 
of the motives which prompted the compilation of 
this Memoir was the wish to put within the reach of 
.all who are interested in the origins of photography 
the only authentic record of what appears to have been 


the first essay in the Art. It is to be found at p. 171 
of the first volume of the Journals, and is usually said 
to have been published in June 1802, but no dates are 
appended to the various papers and reports contained 
in the volume. A sentence in the preface says : " The 
first three sheets were published under Count Rumford's 
direction. Dr. Young was the editor of the next four ; 
and the subsequent parts have been conducted jointly 
by Dr. Young and Mr. Davy." * The title-page of 
the volume is as follows : 






Sold at the house of the Institution, Albemarle 

Street; by Cadell & Davies, Strand; 

Johnson, St. Paul's Churchyard ; Longman and 

Rees, and H. D. Symonds, Paternoster Row. 


From the Press of the Royal Institution of Great 
Britain : W. Savage, Printer. 

* Fragmentary extracts from the " Account " are, of course, to be 
found in many books relating to the history of Photography, but 
when these are examined it becomes evident that they are generally 
quotations from quotations, that the authors have not seen the com- 
plete "Account," and are often only further abridging previous 
abridgments. The longest extract I have met with is in Robert 
Hunt's "Researches on Light," 1844. The whole was reprinted 
(since this was written) in Photography for May 1902. 


An Account of a method of copying Paintings upon Qlass y 
and of making Profiles, by the agency of Light upon 
Nitrate of Silver. Invented by T. WEDGWOOD, 
With Observations by H. 

White paper, or white leather, moistened with 
solution of nitrate of silver, undergoes no change 
when kept in a dark place ; but on being exposed to 
the daylight, it speedily changes colour, and after 
passing through different shades of grey and brown, 
becomes at length nearly black. 

The alterations of colour take place more speedily in 
proportion as the light is more intense. In the direct 
beams of the sun, two or three minutes are sufficient 
to produce the full effect. In the shade, several hours 
are required, and light transmitted through different 
coloured glasses acts upon it with different degrees of 
intensity. Thus it is found that red rays, or the 
common sunbeams passed through red glass, have very 
little action upon it : Yellow and green are more 
efficacious, but blue and violet light produce the most 
decided and powerful effects.* 

* The facts above mentioned are analogous to those observed long 
ago by Scheele, and confirmed by Senebier. Scheele found, that in 
the prismatic spectrum, the effect produced by the red rays upon 
silver muriate was very faint, and scarcely to be perceived ; whilst 
it was speedily blackened by the violet rays. Senebier states, that 
the time required to darken silver muriate by the red rays, is 20 
minutes, by the orange 1 2, by the yellow 5 minutes and 30 seconds, 


The consideration of these facts enables us readily to 
understand the method by which the outlines and shades 
of paintings on glass may be copied, or profiles of 
figures procured, by the agency of light. When a 
white surface, covered with solution of nitrate of silver, 
is placed behind a painting on glass exposed to the 
solar light, the rays transmitted through the differently- 
painted surfaces produce distinct tints of brown or 
black, sensibly differing in intensity according to the 
shades of the picture, and where the light is unaltered, 
the colour of the nitrate becomes deepest. 

When the shadow of any figure is thrown upon the 
prepared surface, the part concealed by it remains white, 
and the other parts speedily become dark. 

For copying paintings on glass, the solution should 
be applied on leather ; and in this case it is more readily 
acted upon than when paper is used. 

After the colour has been fixed upon the leather 

by the green 37 seconds, by the blue 29 seconds, and by the violet 
only 15 seconds. " Senebier sur la Lumiere," vol. iii. p. 199. 

Some new experiments have been lately made in relation to this 
subject, in consequence of the discoveries of Dr. Herschel concern- 
ing the invisible heatmaking rays existing in the solar beams, by 
Dr. Ritter and Bockmann in Germany, and Dr. Wollaston in 

It has been ascertained, by experiment upon the prismatic spectrum, 
that no effects are produced upon the muriate of silver by the 
invisible heatmaking rays which exist on the red side, and which 
are least refrangible, though it is powerfully and distinctly affected 
in a space beyond the violet rays out of the visible boundary. See 
"Annalen der Physik, siebenter Band," 527. D. 


or paper, it cannot be removed by the application of 
water, or water and soap, and it is in a high degree 

The copy of a painting, or the profile, immediately 
after being taken, must be kept in some obscure place. 
It may indeed be examined in the shade, but in this 
case the exposure should be only for a few minutes ; 
by the light of candles and lamps, as commonly 
employed, it is not sensibly affected. 

No attempts that have been made to prevent the 
uncoloured part of the copy or profile from being 
acted upon by light have as yet been successful. They 
have been covered with a thin coating of fine varnish, 
but this has not destroyed their susceptibility of 
becoming coloured ; and even after repeated washings, 
sufficient of the active part of the saline matter will 
still adhere to the white parts of the leather or paper, 
to cause them to become dark when exposed to the 
rays of the sun. 

Besides the applications of this method of copying 
that has just been mentioned, there are many others. 
And it will be useful for making delineations of all 
such objects as are possessed of a texture partly opaque 
and partly transparent. The woody fibres of leaves, 
and the wings of insects, may be pretty accurately re- 
presented by means of it, and in this case, it is only 
necessary to cause the direct solar light to pass through 
them, and to receive the shadows upon prepared leather. 


When the solar rays are passed through a print and 
thrown upon prepared paper, the unshaded parts are 
slowly copied ; but the lights transmitted by the shaded 
parts are seldom so definite as to form a distinct 
resemblance of them by producing different intensities 
of colour. 

The images formed by means of a camera obscura 
have been found too faint to produce, in any moderate 
time, an effect upon the nitrate of silver. To copy 
these images was the first object of Mr. Wedgwood in 
his researches on the subject, and for this purpose he 
first used the nitrate of silver, which was mentioned to 
him by a friend, as a substance very sensible to the 
influence of light ; but all his numerous experiments 
as to their primary end proved unsuccessful. 

In following these processes, I have found, that the 
images of small objects, produced by means of the 
solar microscope, may be copied without difficulty on 
prepared paper. This will probably be a useful ap- 
plication of the method ; that it may be employed 
successfully, however, it is necessary that the paper be 
placed at but a small distance from the lens. 

With regard to the preparation of the solution, I 
have found the best proportions those of i part of 
nitrate to about 10 parts of water. In this case, the 
quantity of the salt applied to the leather or paper will 
be sufficient to enable it to become tinged, without 
affecting its composition, or injuring its texture. 


In comparing the effects produced by light upon 
muriate of silver with those produced upon the 
nitrate, it seemed evident that the muriate was the 
most susceptible, and both were more readily acted 
upon when moist than when dry, a fact long ago known. 
Even in the twilight, the colour of moist muriate of 
silver spread upon paper slowly changed from white to 
faint violet ; though under similar circumstances no 
immediate alteration was produced upon the nitrate. 

The nitrate, however, from its solubility in water, 
possesses an advantage over the muriate : though leather 
or paper may, without much difficulty, be impregnated 
with the last substance, either by diffusing it through 
water, and applying it in this form, or by immersing 
paper moistened with the solution of the nitrate in very 
diluted muriatic acid. 

To those persons not acquainted with the properties 
of the salts containing oxide of silver, it may be useful 
to state that they produce a stain of some permanence, 
even when momentarily applied to the skin, and in 
employing them for moistening paper or leather, it is 
necessary to use a pencil of hair, or a brush. 

From the impossibility of removing, by washing, the 
colouring matter of the salts from the parts of the 
surface of the copy which have not been exposed to 
light, it is probable that, both in the case of the nitrate 
and the muriate of silver, a portion of the metallic acid 
abandons its acid to enter into union with the animal 


or vegetable substance, so as to form with it an insoluble 
compound. And, supposing that this happens, it is not 
improbable, but that substances may be found capable of 
destroying this compound, either by simple or com- 
plicated affinities. Some experiments on this subject 
have been imagined, and an account of the results of 
them may possibly appear in a future number of the 
Journals. Nothing but a method of preventing the 
unshaded parts of the delineation from being coloured 
by exposure to the day is wanting, to render the process 
as useful as it is elegant. 

Such is Davy's account. Considered as a piece of 
exposition, it is clear, but dull, dry, and rigid. It reads 
as if the writer were trying to say as little as possible, 
beyond the conveying of the main fact. It is plain 
that Davy, whatever may have been his scientific apti- 
tudes, was destitute of the scientific imagination. He 
was describing something which, so far as he knew, 
and so far as we know, had never before happened. 
Up to that moment every picture produced by man 
had been made by the human hand, guided by the 
human eye. - But here was a picture, or a sort of 
picture, a representation of an object, which had come 
into existence by the spontaneous action of natural 
forces, by a chemical change produced by the action 
of light. Obviously, one might say, this was a fact 
behind which lay wonderful possibilities. But to Davy, 
apparently, no such thought occurred. Now we do 
not, of course, expect that the discoverer of a hitherto 


unknown fact should foresee all that is to result from 
it. When Oersted noticed (in 1819) that a magnetic 
needle on his table was deflected by an electric current, 
he had probably no idea that the quivering of that 
needle meant that some forty years later people would 
be sending instantaneous messages from Copenhagen 
to the Antipodes. But one might suppose that to a 
scientific mind like Davy's it would be self-evident that 
when an entirely new use of one of the forces of 
nature is discovered some important results are pretty 
sure to follow. He failed, however, to make that 
inference. In the title of his paper he suggests two 
uses only to which the new process may be applied, 
the making of profiles, and the copying of glass- 
paintings. As the making of profiles could interest 
but few people, and only glass-painters could find a 
use for copying such paintings, he could hardly have 
chosen a title less likely to arouse attention.* And it 
is odd that he did not notice the awkward ambiguity 
of the phrase, which many people would read as meaning 
the making of copies, on glass, of oil paintings or 
other paintings. The oversight was probably due to 
haste, but when taken along with the general tone of 
the paper, it is significant. Had he felt any real 
interest in the matter, or thought there was any value 

* This title always reminds me of Mr. Dick in " David Copper- 
field." Mrs. Crupp had told him his room at Hungerford market was 
not big enough to swing a cat in. " But you know Trotwood, I 
don't want to swing a cat, I never do swing a cat. Therefore, what 
does that signify to me ? " A reader might have said to Davy : " I 
don't want to copy paintings on glass, so what does that signify to 


in the "invention" he would surely have given a few 
moments' thought to the words which he put at the 
head of his report. 

It is possible, of course, that Wedgwood himself 
may not have attached any special importance to the 
experiments, or perceived what great possibilities were 
opened up by his partial success. But whether this 
was so it is impossible to say ; as not a word of any 
writing of his on the subject is extant, and we know 
nothing of the exact circumstances under which the 
account was drawn up. He was out of England when 
it appeared in print, and had been constantly moving 
about since November 1800, the date when Leslie 
was getting him the coloured glasses, &c. I am inclined 
to believe that there was probably no time between that 
date and his departure from England, early in 1802, 
in which he could have been working at the subject. 
Probably he left the whole matter, after his experiments 
of November 1 800, in Davy's hands. In any case, it 
was utterly impossible for him, broken as he was by 
disease, to pursue the subject himself. 

It may seem at first sight strange that the appear- 
ance of this Account by Davy should not have stimu- 
lated some one conversant with chemistry to attack 
the problem of finding a means of " preventing the 
unshaded parts of the delineation from being coloured 
by exposure to the day" i.e., of "fixing" the image 
of the object on the paper. But this is not so surprising 
when we discover what the " Journal " was. It was not 
a periodical published in the ordinary way, but a little 
paper printed from time to time to let the subscribers 
to the infant institution know what was being done 


there. It was not announced as appearing at any 
stated periods, but was to be issued " as often at least 
as once a fortnight." This announcement, however, 
was not acted upon. The first number came out in 
April 1 800, but the next not till fourteen months later, 
and the " Journal " did not live beyond a first volume.* 
There is nothing to show that Davy's account was ever 
read at any meeting ; and the print of it would have 
been read, apparently, if read at all, only by the small 
circle of members and subscribers to the institution, 
of whom, we may be pretty sure, only a small 
minority can have been scientific people. For the 
Royal Institution was in its early years something 
quite different from what it afterwards became. It 
was founded in 1799 by Count Rumford, in co-opera- 
tion with a "Society for Bettering the Condition of 
the Poor," with the object of providing a place for the 
exhibition of models of mechanical inventions, and for 
teaching " the applications of science to the common 
purposes of life." The chief things exhibited in the 
" Repository " appear to have been improved cooking 
appliances, roasters, fireballs, economical grates, brewers' 
boilers, laundry fittings, ventilators, models of cottages, 
&c. Thus Davy's paper cannot be said to have been 
"published," in any effective sense, in the year 1802. 
Wedgwood was at the time out of the country, and 
under these circumstances it is no wonder that the 
record of his first steps towards the creation of a wholly 
new art should have escaped general notice. 

* " The Royal Institution, its founders and first professors," by 
Dr. Bence Jones, 1871. 


That Davy did not seriously tackle the problem of 
fixing the pictures is, I think, evident from the closing 
sentences of the Account. He contented himself, it 
would seem, with "imagining some experiments" on the 
subject, the result of which might " possibly " be 
reported at a future day. Dr. Davy, when he included 
the Account in the complete edition of his brother's 
works (18341840), added a note saying "recently 
this method of delineation has been futher cultivated, 
especially by Mr. Talbot in this country," but said 
nothing as to Sir Humphrey having done or written 
anything more as to the silver pictures of 1802. The 
discoveries of Daguerre and Talbot were then attract- 
ing much attention. Dr. Davy was referring to Talbot's 
" Photogenic Drawing " (which was described in the 
Athenaeum of February 9, 1839), and if he had known 
anything of further researches by his brother in the 
same direction he would certainly have mentioned 
them. Indeed a note on p. 14 of Dr. Davy's "Frag- 
mentary Remains, &c., of Sir H. D." (1858) makes it 
certain that Sir H. did nothing more than is shown 
in the Account. 

Sir William Abney, in his article on photography in 
the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," after describing the 
Wedgwood process as reported by Davy, says : 

" In this method of preparing the paper lies the germ of the silver 
printing processes which are practised at the present time 
(1884), and it was only by the recent spread of chemical know- 
ledge that the hiatus was filled up, when hyposulphate of soda, 
discovered by Chaussier in 1799, or three years before Wedg- 
wood published his paper, was used for making the print 
permanent. " 


Mr. Jerome Harrison, in his account of fixing pro- 
cesses, writes as follows : * 

"The only thing deplored by Wedgwood and Davy in 1802 
was their inability to discover any satisfactory solvent for the 
salts of silver the muriate (or, as we should now call it, the 
chloride) and the nitrate which they employed." 

Mr. Harrison would here seem to imply that Wedgwood 
and Davy were really working together at the problem 
in 1802. But I see nothing to show that this was so. 
I think it is evident that Davy gave the question no 
serious attention. We do not know when he drew up 
the Account, or when the experiments were made. 
He does not describe them ; he merely states their 
result, and the language of the Account, all through, 
rather suggests that he is telling an old story. I 
incline to think that when he printed it he probably 
had already dismissed the subject from his mind, as 
one of no particular interest, which it certainly would 
have been, if it had involved nothing more important 
than the copying of glass-paintings. 

"In 1819," continues Mr. Jerome Harrison, "Sir John 
Herschel pointed out (in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal) 
the ready solubility of silver salts in the alkaline hyposulphates. 
From this time the problem of photography was solved ; but, 
unfortunately, Niepce, Daguerre, and Talbot seem to have 
known nothing of the work already done by Davy and by 
Herschel. In 1839 Daguerre fixed his iodised silver plates by 
washing them either with ammonia or with a strong solution 
of common salt. At the same time, too, Talbot used common 
salt, and also solutions of bromide of potassium and iodide of 

* "History of Photography " (Trubner 1888), p. 89. 


potassium. Immediately Herschel heard of Daguerre's and 
Talbot's successes in photography (in January 1839), he 
remembered the substance whose solvent power for silver salts 
he had announced in 1819 (hyposulphate of soda), and the 
directions which he gives for its use, in a valuable paper read 
before the Royal Society on February 20, 1840, have ever 
since formed the foundation of our ordinary method of fixing 
photographs on paper." 

From these statements of expert authorities I infer 
that if Davy had tried seriously to find a " fixing " 
process, there was nothing to hinder his soon dis- 
covering one. And this appears to be the view taken 
by Dr. Eder in his account of Wedgwood's work. 

" Wedgwood and Davy had forgotten, or not known, 
Scheele's important discovery that white chloride of silver is 
completely dissolved in ammonia, but that when darkened by 
light it leaves behind a deposit of silver, which is much to be 
wondered at, considering how widely disseminated were 
Scheele's writings, of which there was also an English transla- 
tion. By this a means would have been given of fixing the 
chloride of silver pictures.* 

Dr. Schiendel makes a similar observation : 

<c It must appear highly remarkable that a chemist of Davy's 
rank should not have been acquainted with Scheele's weighty 
discovery that chloride of silver dissolves in ammonia, and that 
Wedgwood had at his command, in that discovery, a very easily 
procurable means of making his pictures permanent." t 

* " Geschichte der Photochemie und Photographic." Dr. Joseph 
Maria Eder (Halle a. S. 1891). 

t "Geschichte der Photographic," 1891, p. 19. I find it, how- 
ever, difficult to suppose that Wedgwood can have overlooked any 
material point in Scheele's researches. They are referred to in the 
Account, and in a letter to Godwin on philosophical subjects (Jan. 14, 


The whole story seems to show that in getting Davy's 
collaboration Wedgwood made an unlucky mistake. 
The " Account " being practically a record of failure 
in the critical point as to fixing the pictures, Davy's 
eminence as a chemist for he had already made a 
name, though only at the beginning of his career 
would make such failure, or apparent failure, all the 
more discouraging to future investigators. That in 
one instance it had this effect appears from a remark 
made by Fox-Talbot in 1839 when describing his own 
work.* He there relates how Davy's announcement 
of what seemed a complete failure had discouraged a 
scientific friend of his from pursuing the matter ; adding 
that it would have perhaps led himself to consider the 
attempt as hopeless, if he had not, fortunately, before 
he read the " Account," discovered a method of fixing 
the image. Dr. Eder makes a like remark, though he 
is in error, as I believe, as to the extent of Davy's 
efforts, when he says : " The want of any result 
from the experiments deterred his (Davy's) contem- 
poraries from attempting the solution of a problem on 
which a scientific man of the first rank had wrecked 
himself (gescheitert war) ; and thus many years passed 
before the fixing of silver pictures was discovered." 

If these views are sound, we may apparently infer 
that if Davy had had some little imagination, and had 
taken any reasonable amount of pains in following up 

1797) we find him saying: "This talent" [for philosophical investi- 
gation], " if I have it in any degree, I attribute to a spirit of accurate 
analysis acquired from the writings of Scheele and Bergmann, and 
practised in the operations of the laboratory." 
^ Jan. 1839, P- I 44 


Wedgwood's footsteps, photography would probably 
have come into existence as a practical art some thirty- 
five years before the time of Daguerre and Talbot. 

A question of some interest in regard to these later 
inventors is, Was any of their work prompted by a 
knowledge of Wedgwood's imperfect results ? On 
this point we have little or no positive evidence, but 
what we do know seems to make it unlikely that they 
were aware of Wedgwood's work. The first recorded 
effective photography was undoubtedly that achieved 
by Nicephore Niepce, who, at least as early as 1816, 
thirteen years before the time when he entered into his 
partnership with Daguerre, was taking, by means of a 
camera, pictures of outdoor scenes pictures which 
might be called " permanent," as compared with the 
evanescent products of Wedgwood's experiments. The 
fullest account of his work^ gives no hint of his having 
derived his ideas from any predecessor, and the cir- 
cumstances were such as to make it extremely unlikely 
that he had ever read Davy's ' ' Memoir " of 1 802. He 
was not a professed chemist or savant^ and was living 
the quietest of lives at Chalon-sur-Saone, some hundreds 
of miles from Paris. It was in 1813 that he began 

* Namely, the series of private letters to his brother Claude Niepce 
given in the biography entitled, " La verit'e sur I' invention de la photo- 
graphy : Nicephore Niepce, sa vie, &c." par Victor Fouque. Chalon- 
sur-Saone, 1867. M. Fouque's narrative, which certainly seems to 
be borne out by the documents he prints, purports to show that 
Niepce was the real inventor of the art, having accomplished the 
most decisive steps before he entered into the partnership under 
which he and Daguerre agreed to " pool " their knowledge and their 
results ; and that it was only by a series of dishonest measures that 
Daguerre contrived to secure to himself the credit of the discovery, 
and get the art called (for a time) by his own name. 


trying to apply to lithography (then a new art in France) 
the alterative power of sunlight ; and we know how 
slight was the intercourse between England and France 
during all that war-time. Daguerre's ideas on photo- 
graphy were mainly derived from Nipce. Arago's 
Report of 1839 on " Daguerrotypie," though it 
mentions Davy's " Memoir " as the earliest announce- 
ment of a photographic process, gives no hint of this 
having been known to Daguerre. There is thus no 
reason to think that either of the two first French 
photographers took anything from Wedgwood. 

Fox-Talbot knew of Wedgwood's experiments, but 
not, apparently, until after he had himself found a 
method of fixing the image.* 

But though Wedgwood's attempts to produce 
permanent light-pictures failed to stimulate his 
contemporaries to pursue the subject, one of his 
conclusions, at least, seems to have led to an important 
result nearly forty years later, just at the critical time 
when the art was reaching the stage of unqualified 
success. After the publication, in 1839, of the processes 
of Talbot and of Daguerre, the advance of photo- 
graphy much depended on the question how it might 
be possible to shorten the time of exposure necessary 
to secure a picture. In 1841 Talbot patented his 
a Calotype " process, which reduced the time of exposure 

* Ante, p. 20 1. The soundness of Fox-Talbot's claim, however, 
to be an original inventor has been disputed. Werge (" Evolution of 
Photography," pp. 14, 101) holds to the view that his process, as first 
announced, did not go beyond Wedgwood's, and that he must have 
seen Davy's " Memoir." Of the merits of this controversy I know 
nothing, but the reasons given by Werge for doubting Talbot's 
statement do not seem to me to have much weight. 


to two or three minutes. This was effected by brushing 
over the sensitive paper with a mixture of gallic acid 
and nitrate of silver. But in this system, says Mr. 
Jerome Harrison,* "it is tolerably certain that Talbot 
had been anticipated by the Rev. J. B. Reade." This 
was established in a trial (Talbot v. Laroche) arising 
from an attempt to upset Taibot's patent on the ground 
of " previous discovery." Now Reade's use of the gallic 
acid had arisen from his noticing Davy's statement that 
in Wedgwood's process leather was found to be more 
readily acted upon than paper. In order to repeat 
Wedgwood's experiment, he had borrowed a pair of 
light coloured kid gloves from his wife. She, however, 
objected to lend him a second pair ; " and this " (here 
I quote his own words) " led me to say, ' Then I will 
tan paper." Reade was at this time (1837) taking 
photographs of objects by the solar microscope, and 
employing an artist to copy the images on the screen. 
To avoid the continued expense of this copying, 

"I fell back,"t he says, "but without any sanguine expecta- 
tions, upon the photographic process adopted by Wedgwood. 
My fortunate inability to replenish the stock of leather induced 
me to apply the tannin solution to paper, and thus I had the 
pleasure of succeeding where Talbot acknowledged that he 
failed. . . . My old friend, Mr. Andrew Ross, told Mr. Talbot 
how first of all, by means of the solar microscope, I threw the 
image of the object on prepared paper, and then, while the 

* "A History of Photography " (1887), pp. 30, sqq. 

t I am abbreviating here his rather rambling account as given 
by Mr. Werge. Reade, a country clergyman, was an amateur 
astronomer and microscopist. He died in 1870. (Werge, pp. 15, 
16, 90.) 


paper was yet wet, washed it over with the infusion 'of galls, 
when a sufficiently dense negation was quickly obtained. In 
the trial (Talbot v. Laroche) Mr. Talbot in his cross-examina- 
tion, and in an almost breathless court, acknowledged that he 
had received this information from Ross." 

This essential detail in Talbot's process thus seems 
to have come to him, through Reade and Ross, from 
T. Wedgwood. 



I WILL not here attempt any estimate of Tom Wedg- 
wood's character. His letters reflect clearly enough 
its moral side, his temper and disposition, but, as the 
reader will have seen, they tell little or nothing as to 
his intellectual interests. Pre-occupied as he necessarily 
was with the ever urgent question of his bodily health, 
it is hardly strange that, to his nearest and dearest 
friends, he could write of hardly anything else. When 
the great question for every day was whether it was or 
was not to be passed in misery, any free play of thought 
on things less personal was scarcely to be looked for. 
If we had his letters to Coleridge, they might give us a 
completer knowledge of his mind ; but none of these, 
so far as I know, are extant. 

His first serious efforts, as has been shown, were in 
the direction of physical science, and I imagine that if 
he had had ordinary health his best work would have 
been of that kind. Sir Humphrey Davy's remarkable 
words: " His opinions were to me a secret treasure, 
and often enabled me to think rightly when otherwise 
perhaps I should have thought wrongly," presumably 
referred to their interchange of ideas on physical 
problems. But the main drift of his thoughts, after 
ill-health had forced him to give up experimenting in 


the laboratory, was in another direction, as is shown by 
the mass of writing which he left behind him. This is, 
for the most part, a chaotic heap of rough MSS., dealing 
wholly with one group of subjects, namely, metaphysical 
and psychological speculation, with excursions into edu- 
cational and social questions. It seems to have been 
mainly his talk on these subjects that gave his friends and 
acquaintances such a high opinion of his powers. And if 
we are to accept the judgment of Mackintosh, who was 
then (and is still) thought an authority on the subject, 
there must have been something distinctively original in 
his handling of some of the most time-honoured meta- 
physical problems.^ Mackintosh undertook to be the 
editor of his philosophical speculations, " or," he says, 
" as I would rather call them, discoveries," and he 
took with him to India, as we have seen, various MSS. 
of Tom's, intending to draw up, as he had promised, 
an exposition of his views. 

After Tom's death (in the next year) Mackintosh 
renewed his promise to Josiah Wedgwood, and it was 
then settled that the publication should include a 
Memoir by Coleridge, towards which Poole, Sharp, 
and others were to assist. But this project came wholly 
to naught. Whether Mackintosh seriously attempted 
to do his part is not quite clear. It was hardly possible, 

* Josiah, telling Poole (in 1800) of his brother's discussions with 
Mackintosh, writes : " The subjects cleared are no less than Time, 
Space, and Motion ; and Mackintosh and Sharp think a meta- 
physical revolution likely to follow." Coleridge, who never liked 
Mackintosh, receives this news with chilling caution. He thinks it 
likely Tom has fallen upon some valuable truth, but has "many 
reasons for being exceedingly suspicious of supposed discoveries in 
Metaphysics." (T. P., ii. 28-30.) 


and if possible would have been scarcely decent, that 
the judge of an important court at Bombay should 
find time for dissertations on subtle metaphysical 
questions " time," " space," and the everlasting con- 
troversy between Intuitionists and Empiricists. So the 
promise good-naturedly but not wisely made was never 
redeemed. Nor was anything ever heard of Coleridge's 
Memoir, save in the way of belated excuses and 
apologies, with a confused story of papers of his having 
been lost at Malta or thrown overboard from the ship 
which was carrying them home. 

Tom Wedgwood's speculations in psychology led 
him on to theories about education. " Child-study " 
was one of his constant interests, stimulated perhaps 
by his having subjects of observation always at hand in 
Josiah's young family. His views hereon, as on human 
affairs generally, are largely Rousseauistic. The om- 
nipotence of education, philosophically guided, in the 
formation of character is taken for granted ; inheritance 
and congenital character are ignored ; he puts no limit 
to what may be achieved by appropriate training. Here 
we have the perfectibilism of Godwin and the pre- 
French-Revolution philosophers. The great engine of 
child-management is the Hartleian doctrine of the 
" association of ideas." This he applies more to the 
play of the emotions than to purely mental phenomena. 
We come here and there on entertaining illustrations 
of the method. They are explained with the utmost 
seriousness ; for though Erasmus Darwin, when Tom 
Wedgwood was staying with him at the age of eight 
years, wrote to his father of the boy's " humour," 
I have not detected the smallest sign of that quality in 


the mature philosopher. His methods remind us of 
those of another child of the Revolution, Thomas 
Day, once so well known in English nurseries by his 
" Sandford and Merton." Day, in order to cultivate 
presence of mind in the two orphan girls whom he set 
about training with the view of choosing one of them 
for a wife, used to drop hot sealing-wax on their 
bare arms, or suddenly fire pistols at their petticoats. 
Wedgwood, in the course of a disquisition on the same 
virtue, suggests a similar method of teaching children 
"how men elude danger and inconvenience by address." 
" The parent might invite the attack of a fierce bull, 
stand with perfect composure until the animal be 
within two or three paces of him, then suddenly open 
an umbrella, hold his hat before his face, or somehow 
contrive to amuse and terrify the foe, whilst his child, 
on the other side of the stile, shall witness his intrepidity, 
and by degrees practise the same feat himself in company 
with his parent." This recipe is awkwardly vague on 
the critical point how the parent, while on the bull's 
side of the stile, is to " amuse or terrify the foe," 
but Wedgwood kindly provides, for the benefit, no 
doubt, of less heroic spirits, a less trying variant of 
the same procedure, in which " a raging turkey cock " 
does duty for the bull ; and he explains at some 
length the rationale of the effect produced on the 
bull's or the turkey cock's mind by the parent's 

Richard Sharp was a remarkably acute critic and 
much given to philosophical speculation, but what the 
discoveries were from which he " thought a revolution 
in metaphysics likely to follow," is a question which I, 



though I have looked through the box full of Tom's 
MSS. which has been kept as a family relic for nearly a 
century, am quite unable to answer. And I doubt 
whether the best equipped and most industrious of 
experts in these high matters would be able to extract 
from them much definite metaphysical doctrine. They 
are mostly rough note-books and fragmentary essays, or 
bits of essays, many of them evidently jotted down in a 
travelling carriage. What they most clearly show is, that 
Wedgwood had an acute and penetrating mind, and de- 
lighted in the minute analysis of mental and psychical 
processes. The same perseverance which kept him try- 
ing for six months to hang a thermometer in vacuo here 
appears in the laborious minuteness with which he dissects 
little every-day experiences of memory and association. 
He believed, apparently, that through such minute 
analysis lies the road, if any road there be, to dis- 
covering what is the exact process by which we arrive 
at a belief in the existence of an external world ; and 
how emotion, thought, and will (if there be such a 
thing), are related to the primary facts of sensation. 
To many people speculation of this kind, the laborious 
attempt to discover by thinking what thinking /V, seems 
something like an eye's trying to look into itself. But 
however that may be, it does not seem to me likely 
that any exposition of Tom Wedgwood's metaphysical 
views, outgrowths of the thought of more than a 
century ago, could now have any other than a historical 
interest. In metaphysics, as in other matters, " much 
has happened since then." To note one point only, 
Englishmen then had no knowledge of the course 
of philosophical speculation in Germany. Coleridge's 


influence as the " interpreter of Germany to- Eng- 
land "* had not begun. Kant's " Critic of Pure Reason " 
appeared in 1781, but as late as about 1816, we find 
Dugald Stewart could only read it in a Latin transla- 
lation, and " abandoned the undertaking in despair." 
I see nothing to show that Wedgwood read or knew 
German (though he travelled in the country for some 
weeks or more in 1796). (Mackintosh knew nothing 
of it till 1804, when he took some lessons from his 
children's German governess on his voyage to Bombay.) 
Another thing which would necessarily, I conceive, 
make Wedgwood's discussion of mental phenomena 
out of date is the immense advance since made in our 
knowledge of the physiology of the brain and nervous 
system. Not till some five years after his death did 
Sir Charles Bell's great discovery of the distinction be- 
tween sensory and motor nerves become known to the 
world, t 

For a substantially similar reason his lucubrations 

* Sir L. Stephen. 

t The only bit, so far as I know, of Wedgwood's metaphysical 
work which has been printed, is a short article in the third volume 
(1817) of the "Journal of Science and the Arts" (edited at the 
Royal Institution), entitled "An Enquiry into the origin of our 
notion of distance, drawn up from notes left by the late Thomas 
Wedgwood, Esq." This, as its vague title shows, is not actually of 
Wedgwood's writing. It is a recast of a MS. essay bearing nearly 
the same title, with additions taken from another MS. called an 
" Essay on Vision," some portions being paraphrases of Wedgwood's 
words or additions by the editor. I have not discovered who edited 
or arranged this paper. Might it possibly have been done by 
Mackintosh ? If so one can understand his not wishing to put his 
name to a very partial attempt to redeem the promise made so many 
years previously. The paper deals with the Berkleyan theory of 
vision, but I have not sufficient knowledge of this thorny subject to 
venture on a summary of the arguments. It was reprinted in Miss 
Meteyard's "Group of Englishmen," 1871. 


on education, and matters touching politics and 
sociology (to use a modern phrase), could scarcely 
have any interest for a reader of the twentieth cen- 
tury. How long, or how closely, he held to his early 
Godwinian creed is not clear ; but in turning over his 
MSS. one perceives that his mind is still moving within 
that same order of ideas. We have the familiar de- 
nunciation of the tyranny of custom and convention, 
and appeals to the " simplicity of nature," with the 
underlying Rousseauistic implication that the evils of 
the world, in fact, all its modern polity and civilisation, 
have come about by way of corruption and depravation 
of a primitive ideal. The now dominant conception 
of Evolution has taught us to treat that view of the 
past not merely as the fantastic vision which probably 
most of our grandfathers saw it to be, but as a com- 
pletely topsy-turvy view of the history of the race. 

A biographer of Tom Wedgwood, however, when 
touching the matter of evolution, cannot help remem- 
bering that there were links, though only of a personal 
kind, between him and the genesis of that doctrine. 
He was often exchanging ideas with old Erasmus 
Darwin, his sister's father-in-law, in whose specula- 
tions (as his grandson was careful to point out) there 
were foreshadowings of evolution ; but we have no 
reason to think that when reading " Zoonomia," or the 
notes to the " Botanic Garden," he saw in them any 
special significance of this kind. It was not till 1809, 
three and a half years after his death, that there 
appeared, in his sister's nursery at Shrewsbury, the 
baby out of whose little brain there was to come, 
fifty years later, the book which did most to establish 


the order of ideas now increasingly dominant in all 
regions of thought ideas, the growth of which has 
quietly relegated to the domain of history the systems 
of many more notable philosophers than Tom Wedg- 

* Charles Darwin, Tom's nephew, was born Feb. 12, 1809. 
" The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection," appeared 
in Nov. 1859. It is hardly possible to say when the idea of Evolu- 
tion first began to make an impression on the general world of 
thought. " In Memoriam " will serve to remind posterity that it 
was in the air some time before Darwin's work became known. 
Old people remember the excitement produced, perhaps more in 
religious than in scientific circles, by the " Vestiges of Creation " in 
1 844, which was the work, not of a man of science, but of a clever 
" litterateur." In the Life of Tennyson there is a noticeable 
letter in which he asks his publisher to get him that book, saying : 
" It seems to contain many speculations with which I have been 
familiar for years, and on which I have written more than one 
poem." A reader in the future, not having in mind the dates, 
might naturally think some pages of " In Memoriam " must have 
been written after the " Origin," but it was not so. The wonderful 
stanzas beginning: 

" Contemplate all this work of time, 
The giant labouring in his youth," 

and ending with 

" Move upward, working out the beast, 
And let the ape and tiger die," 

as well as the earlier section, " ' So careful of the type ? ' but no," 
must have taken shape between 1833 and (about) 1840. Darwin 
was at that time quite unknown except to a few naturalists and 
private friends. He and Tennyson were at Cambridge together, but 
did not know each other till the sixties. 



I CALL Wedgwood the first photographer (adopting a phrase 
used by more than one writer) because he was, so far as we 
know, the first person who conceived and put in practice the 
idea of using the agency of light to obtain a representation of an 
object ; while to call him the inventor of photography would 
be inaccurate, inasmuch as he did not fully succeed in his 
attempt. But two writers of high authority (already mentioned 
in these pages), Dr. Eder and Herr Schiendel, give the title of 
u inventor of photography " to John Hermann Schulze, a 
German university professor who died many years before 
Wedgwood was born. This they do on the strength of a 
Memoir by Schulze, describing an experiment whereby he 
accidentally discovered the darkening effect of light upon silver- 
salt in or previously to the year 1727. This Memoir, however, 
shows, not that Schulze did anything or thought of anything to 
which the word "photographic" can properly be applied, but 
only that he observed (and was possibly the first to observe) a 
fact which about a century later became the groundwork of 
photographic processes. 

As Schulze tells his story in an entertaining way, and 
extracts might give a misleading idea of his drift, I subjoin a 
translation of the entire Memoir.* 

* A paper on this question, including the translation here given 
was read by me in October 1898 at a " Technical Meeting" of the 


It is to be found in the Transactions of the " Caesarean 
Academy " for the year 1727. The full title of the volume is, 
" Acta Physico-Medica Academics C&sarete Leopoldino-Carolin&j 
Nature Curiosorum exhibentia Ephemerides^ sive Observationes 
Historias et Experimenta celeberrimis Germanic et exterarum 
regionum viris habita et communicata" Norimbergae : An. 

John Hermann Schulze, born at Kolditz in Saxony in 1687, 
was a man of considerable note in his time, chiefly as a linguist 
and philologist, and as a historian of ancient medicine. He was 
professor of anatomy, and also of Greek and Arabic, at the 
University of Altdorf in Franconia, and afterwards became 
professor of Eloquence and Antiquities at Halle. He died in 


We often discover by accident what we should hardly have 
found out by intention or design. In this way, while looking 
for and working at one thing, I discovered something I could 
not have hoped for. Whether in communicating the whole 
story to other inquisitive people, and leaving it to their further 
discussion, I am doing what is worth the trouble, the benevolent 
reader will judge for himself. Fair judges will pardon the 
freedom of my title. My only reason for calling my experi- 
ment " scotophoric " is to indicate the darkening effect which 
it showed me. While the " Bologna stone " receives light from 
the sun's rays, this mixture of mine is darkened by the sun and 

Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain (see the Photographic 
Journal of November 30, 1898). In the discussion which then 
followed the views expressed by members present agreed with mine. 


takes a dusky colour. But I think that the true cause of this 
darkening is no less deserving of investigation by the natural 
philosopher than is that of the light which emanates from any 
of the class of phosphorescents. 

It is about two years ago that, while reading various things 
about phosphorescents, I bethought myself of examining the 
" Baldwin process." * I happened then to have at hand some 
aqua forth containing a very small quantity of silver particles, 
say about as much as is wanted to make the preparation suitable 
for separating gold from silver. I was using this aqua forth for 
saturating chalk with it, as one has to do in the Baldwin experi- 
ment. I was doing this at an open window, into which the 
sun was at the time shining very brightly. I was surprised to 
see that the colour of the surface changed to a dark red, inclin- 
ing to violet. But I was more surprised to see that the part 
of the dish not touched by the sun's rays did not at all show that 

Seeing this, and considering that it deserved further examina- 
tion, I put aside the Baldwin experiment, and applied myself to 
this (as it were) darkness-making experiment, in order to get an 
explanation of the change of colour. Doubting what plan to 
follow, I divided the saturated chalk into two parts, one of which 
I put into a round oblong glass of the kind we commonly use 
in dispensing liquid medicines. And in order to get the thick 
mixture more conveniently into the bottle I began to pour in 
more aqua forth. But as the aqua forth made too much ebulli- 
tion and began to dissolve the chalk, I added some water to 
check this action. I then put the glass in a place exposed to 
the sun's rays. Scarcely a few minutes elapsed when I saw that 
the glass, on the side touched by the sun, showed a similar 
colour, namely, dark red verging towards blue. The rest of 
the mixture I left in the dish exposed to the sun's rays and to 
light until it dried, and noticed the coloured surface remaining 

* Baldwin was the discoverer, about 1677, of a kind of phos- 
phorus, afterwards called by his name, different from the " Bolognian." 
It was made by dissolving chalk in aqua for tis. 


so for several days until the stuff was used up in further 

I showed the discovery to friends who visited me, in order 
to learn their opinions. Some appeared to think the darkened 
colour was due to heat. To ascertain therefore whether the 
effect arose from heat, we tried various tests. First we put the 
glass close enough to a bright fire to make it pretty hot, but 
in such a position that the part which had not been reached by 
the sun's rays, and which had none of the colour, fronted 
the fire. That caused no change of colour, though the 
glass had become so hot that the hand could hardly bear to 
touch it. 

This is sufficient proof that nothing here was due to heat, so 
I pass over the other experiments made to this end. But in 
order to see more clearly, and show others, that the dark colour 
was induced by the sun's light, not his heat, I shook up the 
glass, thus mixing up the chalk sediment and the fluid at 
the top, so completely as to remove all difference of colour. 
Dividing the liquor (if I may so call the mixture) in this state, 
I decided to put one bottleful of it in a dark place not ex- 
posed to sunlight, and kept another for fresh experiments. I 
accordingly put [the former] in the sun, tying a thin thread 
from the mouth to the bottom of the bottle, so as to divide 
the side exposed to the sun in about the middle, and left it 
for some hours in a very hot sun, not to be touched or dis- 
turbed by any one. When the thread was removed we were 
delighted to perceive that the part which it had covered showed 
the same colour as the back of the bottle which no ray of 
the sun had reached. We tried the same experiment with 
the same result with horsehair, with human hair, and with an 
extremely thin silver wire ; so that there was no doubt that 
the change of colour depended wholly on the sun's light, 
and that heat, even the sun's heat, had had nothing to do 
with it. 

I further instituted experiments in a contrary sense, that is to 
say, whenever I wished to repeat the experiment, I mixed up 


the fluid so as to make it of uniform colour, and covered the 
greater part of the glass with opaque bodies, leaving a small part 
of it freely accessible to the light. I thus several times wrote 
words or entire sentences on paper, and after carefully cutting 
out with a sharp knife the ink-marked parts, stuck the paper, 
perforated in this way, on the glass by means of wax. Before 
long the sun's rays, on the side on which they had touched the 
glass through the apertures in the paper, wrote the words or 
sentences so accurately and distinctly on the chalk sediment, that 
many people curious in such matters, but ignorant of the nature 
of the experiment, were led to attribute the result to all kinds of 

I said that I had kept the dried portion of the saturated chalk. 
This also, I found, quickly changed its colour whenever it was 
exposed freely to the sun, and in such a way that nothing could 
be attributed to the heat, but that the whole change was attri- 
butable solely to the light. I mentioned also that I put another 
bottle of the same material in a dark place. That, whenever 
I looked at it, kept the same whitish colour, not showing 
in any part even a trace of change of colour. Just as I have 
often found a solution of silver made with aqua forth does 
not get dark in a quite dark place, while when exposed to the 
sun a dark red colour is induced, verging afterwards towards 

I saw that it remained to investigate the cause of the effects 
described. But I was under the belief that all the results 
depended on chalk and aqua forth being mixed together, and so 
began theorising on the effect of light operating on those 
substances ; for it had wholly escaped me that the aqua forth 
which I had employed had been altered, or, as we commonly 
say, " precipitated," by some few particles of silver. It was a 
happy chance, therefore, that it occurred to me to repeat the 
same experiments afresh. I had at hand some very penetrating 
fuming spirit of nitre, such as is used in preparing oil of vitriol. 
This, in order that it should not quite dissolve the chalk, I 
diluted with a good deal of water, and thus began to saturate 


the chalk. But, though I did this in the brightest sunlight, I 
could not in the least see the remarkable change of colour before 
observed. I therefore tried the process with aqua forth as sold 
in the chemists' shops. The result was the same as I observed 
to follow with the spirit of nitre, and not what I expected. 
Whence it came into my mind to remember that the aquafortis 
I had first used had produced the phenomena by reason of the 
particles of silver in it. 

Now, therefore, following up the matter more closely, I 
dissolve a portion of silver in aqua fortis, weaken the solution 
with water, and saturate the chalk as before. The same phe- 
nomena made their appearance, but the colour now showed it- 
self far more distinctly as a larger quantity of silver particles 
were immersed in the saturating fluid. I remember, in fact, 
that when I repeated the experiment with aqua fortis charged 
with a sufficient quantity of silver to form a complete solution, 
the result was that even the parts of the glass not reached by the 
direct rays of the sun soon took a distinctly blackish hue from 
the reflected rays. I exposed the same solution, but diluted 
with water and with no admixture of chalk, in a window open 
to the sun's rays, and found that the dark colour was equally 
produced in the fluid. 

To make the more sure that the effect described was due to 
the sun's light, I put a bottleful of the mixture in such a position 
that it received the sun's rays reflected from a plane mirror, and 
soon discovered that all the results followed under this condition 
just as well as if I had put it to catch the sun directly. I found 
at the same time that, to make the experiment with proper 
precautions, the mixture in the bottle must be so placed as not 
to have behind it any object which can reflect the sun's rays. 
I remember I put a glass (of the mixture) at night in a window 
which did not get the sun till the afternoon. But there was a 
house opposite, which had lately been covered with a coat of 
quite white plaster, and this refracted the morning light vividly 
into my room. I looked at the bottle in the morning and 
detected the usual colour. After this I often placed it so as to 


front a brightly sunlit wall, while no part of it was touched im- 
mediately by any direct ray. I found that it showed the usual 
colour, though more slowly than when the light came from the 

My use of powdered chalk was only accidental, since, as I have 
said, my intention was to prepare some Baldwin's phosphorus. 
But I think it makes no difference if one prefers to substitute 
for the chalk some other white substance, such as hartshorn, 
white magnesia, &c. I have myself used ceruss of lead in 
the same experiment with nearly the same success. But this 
seemed inconvenient, as the ceruss both sticks more firmly to 
the sides of the bottle, and is slower in gravitating to the 
bottom, and after remaining still a long time mixes less easily 
with the fluid a thing which it should do [easily] in order that 
the induced colour may be removed for the purpose of fresh 

If any one desires to see the effect produced in a few moments, 
he should concentrate the sun's rays on a bottle full of the 
mixture by means of a burning-glass ; taking care, however, 
not to put the bottle exactly in the focus, but a little away 
from it. In this way he will see that even in a moment 
the colour of the mixture in the bottle will be distinctly 

This is a summary account of a frequently repeated experi- 
ment. I should add something as to the cause of the phe- 
nomenon if I could satisfy myself with regard to it. We may 
at any rate take it as demonstrated that the effect of solar light 
and heat is different from any that can be looked for from a 
kitchen fire. I have further thought that this experiment of 
mine might also have a use in helping the testing of minerals or 
metals, in case one wishes to ascertain whether they include any 
portion of silver ; for these phenomena have so far not been 
observed to hold in the case of any other metal or mineral when 
similarly treated. Nor do I despair of its being possible that 
the experiment should lead the curious investigators of nature to 
other useful results. On which account I have not hesitated 


publicly to submit it to the further examination of those more 
learned than myself. 

It seems strange that any one reading this should take it as 
showing that Schulze was the " discoverer of photography." It is 
clear that he found out for himself the fact that silver-salt is 
darkened by sunlight ; but there is not a word in his paper which 
suggests that he had any idea of using this fact so as to get a 
picture or representation of an object, which is of course the 
essential idea of photography. Only one practical suggestion 
occurs to him, the possibility, namely, of the discovery being 
used to test the presence of silver in an alloy. 

Dr. Eder, after describing what Schulze did, quotes in the 
original Latin the passage describing the cutting out of the 
paper patterns, and proceeds : " From this account it un- 
questionably appears that Schulze had not only a thorough 
knowledge of the sensitiveness to light of silver-salt as early as 
1727, but that he also applied it to copying written characters 
(Schriftziige zu copiren) by means of sunlight. Accordingly 
Schulze, a German, must be designated the discoverer of photo- 
graphy (Erfinder der 'Photographic}^ though he has never once 
been so called, a fact which may be attributed to the difficulty of 
getting access to the original sources of information." * 

From this it would seem that Dr. Eder rests his view mainly 
on what he calls Schulze's " copying of written characters." 
But surely it is straining Schulze's account to say that when he 
cut out words on a piece of paper, and stuck the paper on the 
bottle, he was u copying " writings. He had already satisfied 
himself that the light darkened the mixture, by the device of the 
thread, and by covering up part of the bottle. The artifice of 
cutting out the words was simply a more vivid and amusing 

* " Geschichte der Photochemie und Photographic." Dr. Josef 
Maria Eder. Halle, 1891. Dr. Eder had already published the sub- 
stance of this part of his history in Photographische Correspondenz 
for January 1881, No. 207. 


way of showing the same fact. If he had had any idea of 
applying it to the copying of anything whatever, he would have 
said so. Evidently no such thought occurred to him. The 
device of the cut-out words amused him and amused his friends, 
as a bit of " natural magic." From his lively account we can 
picture the scene they are astonished at the mysterious 
writing, seen Inside the glass ; he gives the bottle a shake, and 
the writing vanishes! No wonder that, in the year 1727, 
the multi curiosi made wild guesses as to how the trick was 
done. Dr. Eder has fallen into the mistake not a very un- 
common one of reading an old story by the light of current 
ideas. He sees photography in what was only photochemistry. 
Priestley, who described Schulze's experiment in a few clear 
sentences (" History and Present State of Discoveries relating 
to Vison, Light, and Colours," 1772), and who evidently wrote 
with the memoir before him, treats it simply as a demonstration 
of the fact that the silver in the mixture was the cause of the 
change of colour. 

Probably to this notice by Priestley is due the appearance of 
Schulze's experiment with the paper word-patterns in a book, 
apparently popular more than a century ago, entitled " Rational 
Recreations, in which the principles of numbers and Natural 
Philosophy are elucidated by a series of easy, entertaining and 
interesting experiments, &c.," by W. Hooper, M.D. (1774). 
Schulze's name is not mentioned, but " Recreation xliii " 
(vol. iv. p. 143) runs as follows : " Writing on glass by the rays 
of the sun. Dissolve chalk in aqua forth to the consistence of 
milk, and add to that a strong dissolution of silver. Keep this 
liquor in a glass decanter well stopped, then cut out from a paper 
the letters you would have appear, and paste the paper on the 
decanter, which you are to place in the sun, in such a manner 
that its rays may pass through the spaces cut out of the paper, 
and fall on the surface of the liquor. The part of the glass 
through which the rays pass will turn black, and that under the 
paper will remain white. You must observe not to move the 
bottle during the time of the operation." 



Herr Schiendl ("Geschichte der Photographic," Wien, &c., 
1891 ) is even more determined than Dr. Eder to prove that Pro- 
fessor Schulze was the first photographer. " I entirely agree," he 
says, "with Dr. Eder's view that Schulze especially may be 
considered the discoverer of photography, for no one before him 
knew the effect of light (as such) on silver-salts, and he was 
without dispute the first who made use of the operation of light 
to produce light-pictures, evanescent though they were, by means 
of silver-salts through patterns (negatives)."* 

Herr Schiendl here gives two reasons for his view, but it is the 
latter, doubtless, on which he really relies. He can hardly 
mean that Schulze's discovery of the <c light-sensitiveness of 
silver-salt " in itself made him the discoverer of photography, 
for that would imply that the discoverer of a fact is also the dis- 
coverer of whatever the knowledge of that fact may ultimately 
lead to. On this principle we might give the discoverer of 
photography to Porta, who invented the camera obscura three 
centuries ago ; or, with equal reason, to whoever first noticed 
the fading of a curtain under sunlight. Substantially, Herr 
Schiendl's point is that Schulze " made use of the operation of 
light to produce light-pictures." But surely he did not do this. 
He clearly had no thought of producing a picture. His proce- 
dure was the converse of what is represented. He did not use 
the operation of light to produce the image of the word- 
pattern, but used the image of the word-pattern to show the 
operation of light. When he has got the image, or "negative," 
as Herr Schiendl calls it, by a startling anticipation of the 
language of a century later, he has no thought of preserving or 
repeating it. All he does is to destroy it. He shakes the 
bottle and it vanishes. 

But Herr Schiendl cannot get rid of modern photographic 
ideas. He would seem even to suggest that Schulze tried to 
" fix " the image. For in a later page, referring to the sun- 

* " Stencil-patterns " may perhaps represent Herr Schiendl's 
meaning. His words are " urn mittelst Silbersalzen durch Schab- 
lonen (Negative) Lichtbilder, wenn auch vergangliche, herzustellen." 


pictures taken by Thomas Wedgwood, he says : " Schulze 
similarly produced silhouettes in 1727* on a light-sensitive 
silver-salt, and could not fix them, any more than Davy and 

Now not only does Schulze give no hint of trying to "fix" 
the image, but the form of the experiment shows that he could 
not have had any such idea. The image was on the surface of 
a liquid or semi-liquid substance " the liquor," as he calls it 
and any disturbance of the stuff at once dissipated the dis- 
colouration. One is inclined to ask, can Herr Schiendl have read 
the whole memoir, or only some misleading summary of it ? It 
is difficult to account for the almost angry language (emphasised 
by large type) with which he ends the chapter: "The priority, 
then, of discovery in getting light-pictures from silver-salts 
belongs indisputably to Schulze, and only an intentional mis- 
understanding and ignoring of the above adduced facts made it 
possible to throw doubt on his claim." 

In spite of these strong words the extent of Schulze's work 
is clear. He certainly made a remarkable discovery, namely, 
the darkening effect of light upon silver-salts, and he did this 
about half a century before the time of Scheele, who is usually 
said to have first made known the fact. But more than this 
he did not do. Seventy years had to pass before Thomas 
Wedgwood tried to get light-pictures, and did get them, though 
he failed to fix them j while more than a century elapsed from 
the time of Schulze's Observation^ before Niepce, Daguerre, and 
Talbot created the art in a practical sense. 

* Printed " 1737" (evidently in error). 



IN many accounts of the origin of photography we find 
reference to a Professor Charles of Paris, who is said to have 
taken some kind of shadow-pictures or silhouettes of his pupils, 
as a lecture-room experiment, at some time about the beginning 
of the last century. The story is very vague, resting only on 
tradition, and it has been generally put aside by English writers 
as mythical or unimportant. But French writers treat it more 
seriously, and it has some interest, as being apparently (if true and 
assigned to a true date) the only trace of anything that can be 
represented as photographic work before the time of Wedgwood. 
I cannot find that any writer on the history of photography has 
examined it with care, and I will here put together such 
information about it as I have been able to collect. 

First, as to who and what Charles was. There are notices 
of him in the " Biographic Universelle " (Michaud, Paris, 
vol. lx., 1836), in the " Biographic des Contemporains " 
(Levrault, Paris, 1834), and in the " Nouvelle Biographic 
Universelle" (F. Didot, vol. ix., 1854). His career is also 
described in an " Eloge Historique " delivered before the 
French Academy on July 16, 1828, by Baron Fourier, the 
mathematician, then Perpetual Secretary of the Academy. This 
is the fullest of the biographical accounts I have found, and 
from it, mainly, I take the following summary : 



Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles was born at Beaugency, 
November 12, 1746. He first distinguished himself in literary 
studies, then cultivated music and the fine arts. He had for a 
long time a modest clerkship in the Office of the Ministry of 
Finance. This post being suppressed, he retired with a fair 
pension and thus got the free disposal of his time. It was when 
Franklin's discoveries in electricity were astonishing the world. 
Charles took up natural science, and soon became a successful 
public lecturer on physics. His lectures, given in the Louvre, 
drew large and brilliant audiences, and he " had the same 
success for thirty years." He was celebrated for his striking 
experiments ; he " aimed at exciting attention by the grandeur 
and intensity of his results " ; in microscopical experiments he 
used enormous enlargements ; in lectures on electricity "il 
foudroyait un animal." Among his hearers were Volta and 
Franklin. Then came (1783) the Montgolfiers' discovery of 
ballooning. Charles took a leading part in the early ascents, 
and it was he who suggested using hydrogen gas to fill the 
balloon (the method still practised), as an improvement on the 
Montgolfiers' plan of heating atmospheric air. Fourier gives 
details of his ascents. He must have been a man of enterprise 
and courage, for he was actually the first man who ventured to 
ascend, alone, in a free balloon.* One day he had a curious 
experience. A man came to see him who professed to have made 
discoveries in physics and to have proved that certain theories 
of Sir Isaac Newton were wrong. Charles and his visitor got 
into a lively discussion ; the visitor became angry, and in a fit 
of rage drew a sword and rushed at the Professor. Charles was 
unarmed, but seized his assailant, threw him down and broke 
his sword. The man fainted and had to be carried home. This 
fiery person was Marat, afterwards the terrible revolutionary 
leader. On the famous August 10, 1792, the Tuileries were 
invaded by the Paris mob, who found their way to Charles's 
laboratory. He was surrounded by a raging multitude, but 

* See article Aerostation in " Encyc. Brit." 


saved himself by telling them he was the Charles of the 
balloon ascents, pointing to the car which hung from the 

Fourier says he cannot give a full enumeration of Charles's 
many researches. He mentions his " Megascope " and his im- 
portant experiments on the dilatation of gas. It is by the result 
of these (" Charles's law ") that his name is still known to 
students of physics. " To get an idea," says Fourier, " of his 
work and talents, one should consult the many reports in which 
he took part." He was " Librarian of the Royal Institute," at 
what time Fourier does not say. The " Biog. Univ." says he 
became member of the Academy in 1795, "and then Librarian 
of the Society." The " Nouvelle Biog. Univ." gives 1 785 as the 
date of his becoming a member of the Academy. The same 
notice says that he wrote very little, and that in Biot's " Trair.6 
de Physique Expe>imentale " nearly all his work (presque tous 
ses travaux) had been transmitted to us. This article mentions 
various observations of his as to electricity, gases, lightning- 
conductors, optics, acoustics, &c., but has no reference to the 
silhouettes, nor can I find in the above work of Biot any allusion 
to Charles in connection with the effect of light on chemicals. 

The " Biog. des Contemporains " (1834) says he wrote little 
about science " quelques memoires imprimesdans les recueils de 
1' Academic des Sciences," and some mathematical articles in the 
" Encyclopedic Methodique," are his only works ; also, that he 
gave courses of lectures in physics at the Louvre up to the time of 
the Revolution (" jusqu'a 1'epoque de la Revolution "). None 
of the above notices refer to the silhouettes. The earliest 
mention of these which I have found is that by Arago, in the 
famous discourse given before the French Academy of Sciences 
in 1839, on the occasion when, as representative of the scientific 
commission which had recommended the national grants to 
Daguerre and to Isidore Niepce, he gave to the world the 
particulars of the Daguerre-Niepce method. In this address, 
after referring to previous speculations and discoveries bearing 
on the subject, Porta's " camera obscura," the attempts of the 


alchymists, &c., Arago says (I italicise in this and other quotations 
the more important phrases) : 

" Ces applications de la si curieuse propriet6 du chlorure 
d'argent, decouverte par les anciens alchymistes, semblaient 
devoir s'etre presentees d'elles-me'mes et de bonne heure ; mais 
ce n'est pas ainsi que precede 1'esprit humain. II nous faudra 
descendre jusqu'aux premieres annees du dix-neuvieme siecle pour 
trouver les premieres traces de Tart photographique. Alors 
Charles, notre compatriote, se servira, dans ses discours, d'un 
papier enduit pour engendrer des silhouettes a Vaide de Faction 
lumineuse. Charles est mart sans decrire la preparation dont il 
faisait usage ; et comme, sous peine de tomber dans le plus in- 
extricable confusion, 1'historien des sciences ne doit s'appuyer 
que sur des documents imprimis, authentiques, il est de toute 
justice de faire remonter les premieres lineaments du nouvel art 
a un Memoire de Wedgwood" and he goes on to describe and 
quote from the account of Wedgwood's discovery published in 
the Journal of the Royal Institution for June 1802. 

A later allusion to Charles is found in a tract by Arago, entitled 
" Le Daguerreotypie," printed in vol. vii. of his complete 
works. This is apparently a reprint of a former publication, 
but no date or title-page is given to show when the original 
appeared. From internal evidence, I infer it to have been 
written at some date near 1850. It is an account of the dis- 
coveries of Niepce and Daguerre. In a chapter entitled, 
" Examen de quelques reclamations de priorite*," he discusses the 
priority-claim made by Fox Talbot, and in this he says : u La 
premiere idee de fixer les images de la chambre obscure ou du 
microscope solaire sur certaines substances chimiques, n'appartient 
ni a M. Daguerre ni a M. Talbot. M. Charles, de 1'Academie 
des Sciences, qui faisait des silhouettes dans ses cours publics, 
a precede M. Wedgwood. Les premiers essais de M. Nie"pce 
pour perfectionner le precede de M. Charles ou de M. Wedg- 
wood sont de 1814." In section xv. of this tract Arago 
says : " Je me suis attache, dans cette notice, a demontrer que 
la photographic est une invention compltement franaise," 


adding that Talbot has undeniably the credit of a large share in 
the invention of processes for taking photographs on paper. 
This variation by Arago of his earlier account is singular. In 
1839 he pat Charles's experiments in the first years of the last 
century, and gave no hint of his using the camera. One would 
like to know what led him afterwards to say Charles " preceded 
Wedgwood," which must mean did his experiments before 
1802, the date of publication of Wedgwood's discovery. One 
cannot help noticing that the latter statement is in a paper the 
declared object of which was to show that photography was 
wholly a French invention. It would have been more satis- 
factory if he had given some indication of the actual date, 
instead of the loose phrase, " preceded Wedgwood." But this 
later account, apart from any question of the date of the experi- 
ment, gives a wholly new turn to the story. It would seem to 
imply that Charles used both the camera and the solar micro- 
scope, and also that he tried to " fix " his pictures. The earlier 
statement merely says he used a prepared paper to make sil- 
houettes. Now, if the "silhouette" of the tradition means, as 
surely it must, a shadow-picture thrown on the paper by the 
head of the sitter,* Charles could not have used a camera. For 
with the camera, as we all know, it is not the interception 
of light, but the light proceeding from the object, that produces 
the image. On this point Arago's later version seems to be 
quite unintelligible. And if the tradition he mentioned in 
1839 included anything as to the use of a camera, or as to 
" fixing the image," it was surely most strange that he should 
then have said nothing as to these important details. The 
Charles story may be said now to rest upon Arago's state- 
ments as to the tradition existing in his time, and it is un- 
lucky that these statements were so lacking in precision. That 
Arago could be careless even when he was specially bound to 
be accurate, for his business in 1839 was to set forth the grounds 
for a grant of public money, is shown by his confusing Tom 

* See quotation, infra, from M. Tissandier. 


Wedgwood with his father, the potter. If he had looked at the 
" Biographic Universelle," it would have told him that Josiah, 
the father, had died seven years before the date of the Memoir 
from which he was quoting. 

Blanquart-Evrard's " Traite de Photographic sur Papier " 
(Paris, 1851) has an introductory sketch of the history of 
photography by George Ville. In this we read : 

" La photographic est une decouverte franfaise." ..." Elle 
est Pceuvre de deux hommes (Nie"pce et Daguerre)." . . . 
" L'idee de mettre a profit la propriete que possede la chlorure 
d'argent de noircir a la lumiere, pour copier des dessins, et fixer 
f image de la chambre noire^ n'est pas venue pour la premiere fois 
a MM. Niepce et Daguerre. Deja, Charles, physicien francais, 
Pemployait dans les cours qu'il faisait au Louvre, il y a plus 
cTiin demi-siede (this would mean before 1 80 1), pour produiredes 
silhouettes au moyen de la lumiere. Wedgwood, le Palissy de 
PAngleterre, Pavait employe de son cote pour copier des 
vitraux d'eglise, et Sir H. Davy, pour fixer Pi mage de la 
chambre noire." The time here indicated agrees with that 
mentioned by Arago in 1839, while the phraseology and the 
blunder as to the two Wedgwoods suggest that the writer is 
virtually copying from Arago's later account. 

But the mention of chloride of silver does not accord with 
Arago's statement that Charles left no record of his method. 

In a later book of M. Blanquart-Evrard, " La Photographic, 
ses origines, ses transformations" (Lille, 1870), we find yet a 
new account of Charles. Here, after mentioning Scheele's 
researches on the operations of light (1777), the writer says : 
" ^uelques annees plus tard, vers 1780, le Professeur Charles a 
excut, dans son cours public a Paris, le portrait en silhouette 
de ses eleves." ..." Vers le me*me temps, mais un peu plus 
tard, un industriel Anglais, Wedgwood [again confusion of son 
and father], obtenait de son cot de pareils resultats ; " and he 
refers to Davy's Memoir of 1802. This is the earliest mention 
I have found of 1780 as the date of Charles's experiments. No 
authority is quoted for it. 


In "La Photographic," by Mayer and Pierson (Paris, 1862), 
Charles is mentioned in connection with Wedgwood. 
<c Charles, le professeur populaire, obtenait rapidement dans ses 
seances un grand nombre de silhouettes tracers en noir sur un 
papier enduit, pour eprouver Faction lumineuse^ mais il mourut 
sans faire connaitre le secret de sa preparation." It is added 
that "La couleur violacee pourrait faire croire a I'emploi de 
Piode. L'inge"nieux Wedgwood cherche aussi a utiliser cette 
singuliere propriete que possede la nitrate d'argent, etc." This 
account agrees with Arago's early version of the tradition, 
ignoring the later amplifications, but the addition of the sur- 
mise as to iodine is new. This substance was not discovered 
till well on in the nineteenth century. 

The story of the silhouettes is set out at greater length in a 
book entitled " A History and Handbook of Photography," 
translated from the French of Gaston Tissandier, and edited by 
J. Thomson, F.R.G.S. (London : Sampson Low, 1876).* 
" About the year 1780, Professor Charles, the inventor of the 
hydrogen gas balloon, made the first use of the dark room for 
attempting to produce rudimentary photographs. By means 
of a strong solar ray, he projected a shadow of the head of one 
of his pupils on to a sheet of white paper which had previously 
been soaked in a solution of chloride of silver. Under the 
influence of the light it was not long in becoming black in the 
parts exposed, remaining white on that portion of the sheet 
which had been shaded, and then giving a faithful silhouette of 
the person's head in white on a black ground." A picture of 
the supposed scene in the lecture-room is given, which (says a 
footnote) u is based on the rather vague and incomplete ac- 
counts which were given of it at the time of its exhibition 
by Professor Charles." The picture represents a room, in one 
wall of which is a circular hole about a foot in diameter, through 
which streams horizontally a cylinder-shaped beam of light of 

* I do not find the original book in the British Museum, and 
therefore quote from the translation. 


the same diameter, so as to illuminate a screen. (This state of 
things would imply either that the sun was on the horizon or 
that a mirror was used.) Part of the light is intercepted by 
the head of a sitting figure, thus throwing a shadow on the 
illuminated disk. " The sheet of paper was passed from hand 
to hand . . . but soon the light blackened it, and the profile 
disappeared little by little as though blotted with ink. Pro- 
fessor Charles also reproduced, roughly, it is true, some engrav- 
ings which he placed on a sensitised paper. The details of this 
experiment are, however, for the most part, wanting in the 
historical documents relating to his works. Wedgwood, a 
clever English scientist, made a similar experiment to Pro- 
fessor Charles ; he projected the image of the dark room on to 
a sheet of paper similarly sensitised, and obtained a rough pic- 
ture, which could only be preserved in the dark. In 1802 
Wedgwood and Sir H. Davy published a remarkable treatise 
on the reproduction of objects by light."* There is a great air 
of particularity about this account, but it gives no authority 
for the additions made to the tradition reported by Arago, 
namely, the mention of the chemical used and the alleged 
reproduction of engravings. It is difficult, moreover, to under- 
stand M. Tissandier's account of what was done. He says 
Charles made use of the dark room to produce his rudimentary 
photographs. " Chambre obscure" (dark room) is the usual 
French equivalent of " camera obscura." The experiment is 
pictured as made in a darkened room, but the process is not 
that of the camera. And one naturally asks, What or where 
are the " historical documents relating to Charles's works," and 
the " incomplete accounts given at the time ? " These 
phrases are virtually a confession that the story is a tradition 
only ; for if M. Tissandier had known of such accounts, how- 
ever incomplete, he surely would have quoted or referred to 

* The words, "published a remarkable treatise, &c." are absurdly 
inapplicable to Davy's dry little report in four or five pages, of 
Wedgwood's experiment. We may be pretty sure M. Tissandier 
never saw the " treatise." 


them, instead of giving pages of hypothetical description. What 
he says as to Wedgwood is so hopelessly wrong that we cannot 
attach any weight to what he says about Charles. He repre- 
sents Wedgwood as obtaining a rough picture by means of a 
camera, while we know Wedgwood failed to get any image 
from the camera. It is significant that in a later edition of the 
same book (1878) the translator and editor, in a chapter added 
by himself, says : "The story of the heliographic researches of 
Charles is altogether too vague and improbable to be taken into 
serious account." 

Fabre's " Traite Encyclopdique de la Photographic " (Paris, 
1889) says : "En 1780 le physicien Charles, dans ses cours du 
Louvre, dessinait les silhouettes sur papier recouvert de chlorure 
d'argent." This is a book which quotes authorities, and a 
footnote here mentions Blanquart-Evrard's book, " La Photo- 
graphic, ses origines, etc. Lille, 1870," as to which see above. 

Schiendl, in his "Geschichte der Photographic," 1891, gives 
1780 as the date when Charles took his silhouettes " prepared 
with chloride of silver," but the authority he quotes is Fabre's 
book just mentioned, adding that Fabre's authority is Blanquart- 
Evrard's book, "La Photographic, etc., 1870," quoted above. 
This seems to show that neither Herr Schiendl, whose book 
indicates very wide research, nor Fabre, had found any earlier or 
better authority for the date 1780, or for the mention of chloride 
of silver, than the statement of Blanquart-Evrard. 

Dr. Eder, in his important " History of Photochemistry and 
Photography "(Halle, 1891), quotes Arago's statement of 1839^ 
but his verdict is, " The statement that Charles obtained 
silhouettes independently of, or before, Wedgwood is without 
foundation (entbehrt jeder Begrundung)." He points out the 
vagueness of Arago's phrase, "first years of the I9th century," 
and suggests that Charles, who was a member and librarian of 
the Academy of Sciences, and lived till 1823, may well have read 
the account of Wedgwood's experiments, published in 1802, and 
have taken from it the idea of the experiment shown to his 


The English writers on Photography whom I have consulted 
treat the story of the silhouettes as of no account, as being 
purely traditional, but we cannot expect English books to tell 
us much in a case in which evidence could be looked for only 
from France. Robert Hunt, in his " Researches on Heat and 
Light," a work of authority in its time (1844), a time very near 
that of the discussions of 1839 on the beginnings of Photography, 
notices Charles thus : " This " (the account of Wedgwood's 
work published in 1802) " was certainly the first published account 
of any attempt to produce images by the decomposing power of light. 
It does, indeed, appear that, nearly about the same time, 
M. Charles in his lectures at Paris proposed to make use of a 
prepared paper to produce black profiles by the action of light, 
but he died without disclosing the preparation which he 
employed ; indeed, his countryman, the Abb Moigno, admits 
that Charles ' left no authentic document to attest his 
discovery.' " 

Mr. W. Jerome Harrison, in his " History of Photography," 
mentions the story of the silhouettes, but adds, " This statement 
is a mere tradition, and the best authorities have considered it 
* too vague and improbable to be taken into serious account.' " 

This review seems to show that no better authority for the 
story of the silhouettes has been brought forward than the state- 
ment of Arago in 1839, and that the only discoverable authority 
for the date 1780 is a statement given, without any supporting 
evidence, by M. Blanquart-Evrard. It must be remembered 
that Arago, whether he was accurate or not, had exceptional 
opportunities of knowing what was to be known on the matter. 
He was a foremost figure in the French scientific world. As 
Secretary of the Academy of Sciences he had at his command 
the Academy records, and we may presume that he had looked 
to see what they showed upon this subject. He not only says 
he knew of no record left by Charles, but asserts that Charles 
left none. He must have known Charles personally, and was 
writing only sixteen years after his death. It seems very im- 
probable that any valid evidence should have been in existence 


for the date 1780, or for the accounts of the chemical used, and 
that this evidence should have been unknown to him. That 
Charles was lecturing "vers 1780" may be taken as probable, if 
not certain. His connection with the balloon ascents, and the 
adventure with Marat, point to a date before 1789. But if he 
lectured for thirty years (as Fourier asserts), the date of the 
lecturing would not show anything as to the date of the 
silhouette experiments ; while it is easy to understand that an 
oral tradition might confuse one date with the other. If this 
point were worth further investigation, possibly a search among 
pre-revolution French newspapers might yield some evidence. 

But, supposing the story of the silhouettes to be true, the 
question remains, has it any significance in regard to the history 
of photography ? Was the experiment photographic, that is, 
photographic in intent ? There is nothing to show that it was. 
It is much more simple to regard it as done only " pour 
e"prouver," as MM. Mayer et Pierson say, " Faction lumineuse." 
It was a way of making pupils seize the already well-known 
fact that light has a darkening effect on certain substances. 
Charles, we know, took pains to get vivid illustrations, and this 
was just the kind of experiment to stick in the memory of an 
audience. It is, of course, possible that, after showing them the 
silhouettes, he went on to tell them that some means might 
conceivably be found of stopping the after-action of light on the 
space which remained white, and that if this could be done the 
silhouette would remain as a permanent profile portrait. If he 
said anything like this, and if he actually tried to get a "fixing" 
process, he was to that extent a photographer. If not, the idea 
of photography was not there ; it was only an illustration of a 
known fact in photochemistry. But our most trustworthy 
report of the tradition gives no hint of his trying to fix the sil- 
houette, or of his using the camera. This last point is im- 
portant, for if Charles had had in his mind the possibility of 
getting pictures of objects, he could hardly have failed to think 
of the camera, the familiar picture-making machine. If he told 
his class that what he showed them was a first step towards 


actually getting portraits by the mere operation of light it is 
difficult to imagine how an idea so new, so startling, so interest- 
ing to the common world, put forward by a man who was, qufi. 
lecturer, the Tyndall or Faraday of the Paris of his time, could 
have made so little stir as not to be noticed in any record of his 
life, or leave any trace beyond the vague tradition known to us. 
These considerations add force to Dr. Eder's supposition that 
the experiment was shown after 1802, and was suggested by a 
reading of the Davy Memoir. The volume containing that 
Memoir may well have been sent to the Paris Academy, of 
which Charles was (at some time) the Librarian. Arago 
evidently had it before him in 1839. 

It is, of course, perfectly easy to account for the existence or 
the tradition without supposing that the experiment had any 
photographic meaning. For, on the announcement to the 
world in 1839 of Daguerre's method of applying the decompo- 
sing power of light to the making of pictures, nothing would 
be more likely than that people who had witnessed or heard of 
Charles's illustration of that fundamental fact should be reminded 
of his experiment, and should see in it, by the light of later 
knowledge, a significance which he himself had not given it. 

My conclusions on the matter are these : from the nature of 
the case they can but be put in the language of proba- 
bilities : 

1. The story of the silhouettes has probably a foundation in 
fact, though no record has been produced, contemporary or 
other, to show when the experiments were made, what was 
their object, or what method and materials were employed. 

2. The assignment of the early date, 1780, would appear to 
rest on the unsupported statement of one author, writing nearly 
a century after that time. 

3. There is no good reason for supposing that the experi- 
ments, if made, were photographic in character or intentio^ 
and it is not at all probable that they were so. 

4. Assuming that they might have been photographic in 
character, no evidence has been adduced to refute the supposition 


that they were prompted by the account published in 1802 of 
Thomas Wedgwood's work. 

Thus there seems to be no solid ground for treating the 
story as relevant to the history of photography. It will probably 
remain an unverified tradition, as it is hardly likely that any one 
will think it worth while to search for documentary evidence 
of its truth. 


THE story which, as mentioned in the preface, was put forward 
by Miss Meteyard in her book, called " A Group of English- 
men" (1872), and which has confused the true story of 
Wedgwood's work by representing that he did what he certainly 
did not do, is in effect the same as had, some years earlier, made 
a stir among English photographers, and had been then proved 
to be a myth. It was known as the " story of the early photo- 
graphs," and was discussed at many meetings of photographers, 
of which reports may be found in the Photographic News and 
Photographic Journal of the years 1863 and 1864. 

Miss Meteyard maintains that two photographs on paper, of 
which she gives engravings, one called a "Breakfast Table 
Scene," in her "Life of Josiah Wedgwood" (vol. ii. 585), and 
another called " A Savoyard Piper," which she makes the 
frontispiece of the " Group of Englishmen," were done by him 
in the years 1791-93. This is, of course, absolutely impossible 
in face of two facts clearly set forth by Davy in the paper of 
1802 : First, that all Wedgwood's pictures faded away after a 
short exposure to light ; secondly, that images formed by means 
of a camera obscura " were found too faint to produce in any 
moderate time an effect upon the nitrate of silver." The 
" Breakfast Table " picture must obviously have been made by 
means of a camera, and according to Miss Meteyard it was 



permanent enough to be copied by an engraver some seventy 
years after it was taken. There is nothing in the engraving of 
the " Savoyard Paper " to show that it was taken from a photo- 
graph, but if it was, the photograph could not have been 

In the discussions of 1863 an attempt was made to show that 
the art had been invented, in the full sense of the term, about 
1790-1800, or about forty or fifty years before the era of 
Niepce, Daguerre, and Talbot. It was said that, in clearing 
out some rooms at Messrs. Boulton and Watt's works at Soho, 
near Birmingham, there had been discovered two views on 
metal plates, showing a house at Soho, which views could be 
proved to have been taken before 1791 ; and that a camera had 
also been found whereby such pictures had been or might have 
been taken. There had been found also certain large coloured 
pictures of about the same date, which were copies of well- 
known paintings, evidently not done by hand, and these, too, 
were said to be photographic. All these various pictures were 
shown at meetings of the Photographic Society. The story 
was evidently put forward in good faith and at first was widely 
believed. The Saturday Review discussed it at length, and 
spoke of the " chain of evidence " as " nearly complete." But 
before long the so-called evidence proved to be worthless. The 
big coloured pictures, though the method of their production 
was a puzzle, were certainly not photographic. The two 
views of the house at Soho were admitted to be daguerreotypes, 
but the evidence for the early date went to pieces when care- 
fully examined. As to the two alleged Wedgwoodian photos, 
no proof of date or authorship was offered beyond Miss 
Meteyard's statement that she had evidence to show they were 
Wedgwood's ; which evidence, it was said, would appear in the 
forthcoming life of his father. At the meeting of the Society on 
November 3, 1863, there was read a letter from her saying: 
" You may with safety put Wedgwood's experiments in 
1790-1791," &c. At a later meeting, however (January 5, 
1864), the secretary showed an old photograph belonging to 


himself, done by Mr. Fox Talbot about 1841, which corre- 
sponded exactly with that entitled by Miss Meteyard " The 
Breakfast Table at Etruria Hall, 1791." As this photograph 
showed a collection of twenty or thirty separate objects, cups 
and saucers, spoons, teapot, &c., disposed about a table, the 
existence of two views of the scene, exactly similar and yet ot 
independent origin, would have been simply impossible. This 
evidence was confirmed by a letter from Mr. Fox Talbot, 
saying that he had taken the view at Lacock Abbey (where he 
lived), and that, no doubt, copies would be found there. These 
copies have since been found * as also has the negative. 
No attempt was made to disprove the attribution of this 
picture to Mr. Talbot, nor was the origin of the " Savoyard 
Piper " explained. 

The " story of the early photographs " was thus completely 
disposed of in 1864. But in 1866 it reappeared in Miss 
Meteyard's " Life of Josiah Wedgwood." She there described 
" The Breakfast Table " as an " Early Photograph by Thomas 
Wedgwood (Mayer Collection)," but of the promised evidence 
of authenticity there was not a word, not even a word to 
suggest that the origin of the picture had been questioned. 
Five years later, in 1871, she brought out her "Group of 
Englishmen." And again in that volume the exploded story 
was still more emphatically reasserted. An engraving of " The 
Savoyard Piper " there figures as the frontispiece, and is called a 
" facsimile of the earliest known heliotype, or sun-picture, 
taken by the Inventor of Photography, Thomas Wedgwood, 
1791-93." But again no evidence is offered. We are only 
told that a Mr. Mayer derived it from an undoubted source," 
that " many of these c heliotypes ' were, it is said, scattered at 
one time about the Potteries " ; that its " authenticity is 
undoubted," and that as the earliest known specimen of photo- 
graphy it is " considered to be of great value." It is curious 
that in both the volumes containing these statements there are 

* I have seen one of them, kindly sent me by Mr. Fox Talbot's 
son. R. B. L. 


allusions which show that the authoress knew of the discussions 
of 1863-64. She alludes (Life, ii. 5) to the "Soho pictures," 
and in the " Group of Englishmen " the " Savoyard Piper " is 
mentioned as having been " shown at a meeting of the Photo- 
graphic Society." It is not easy to imagine how she could have 
put the story into her books without taking the trouble to 
ascertain the issue of the discussions to which she herself had 
contributed materials. Such carelessness is nearly inconceiv- 
able ; and yet one shrinks from supposing her to have been 
simply mendacious. 

It may be worth while to mention here another theory which 
has found its way into books about Photography, and which was 
also started by Miss Meteyard. It purports to connect 
Daguerre's discovery with Tom Wedgwood's silver pictures, 
and turns on a guess that one Dominique Daguerre, a Paris 
shopkeeper or trader, who was (undoubtedly) old Josiah 
Wedgwood's agent, may have been the father of Louis 
Daguerre, the inventor of the Daguerreotype process. The 
guess is based entirely on the coincidence that the inventor and 
the agent had the same surname. Her "chain of evidence" is 
as follows : Daguerre, the agent, was once or oftener in London. 
" There is reason to think indeed there is a tradition to the 
effect that he visited Etruria, as was customary with most 
foreigners, and whilst there he probably witnessed some of 
T.Wedgwood's experiments on light and heat" (G. of E.,p. 50). 
In a later page (157) this guess or probability appears as a fact: 
" Daguerre's son, who was with him in his visits to Etruria in 
1791 and 1793, was about 20 or 21 years old in 1802. If he 
inherited his father's tastes, we may reasonably conclude that he 
was one and the same with the M. Daguerre who in 1824 
improved the heliotype process .... and he may have 
been led to these researches either through memory of what he 
had seen or heard of T. Wedgwood's experiments." 

This theory, which rests, as Miss M.'s words show, only on a 
series of guesses, is at once disposed of by the fact that Daguerre, 
the inventor, was born in 1787. If, therefore, he was the 


agent's son who "probably" heard of or saw Wedgwood's 
experiments in 1791 or 1793, he had developed a taste for 
physical science, and accompanied his father on business tours, 
when a babe of four or six years old ! and if in 1802 the agent's 
son was "20 or 21 years of age," he must have been born in 
1781 or 1782, or at least five years before the inventor. The 
biographical dictionaries do not give Louis Daguerre's parentage, 
but in a book written by M. Mentienne, Mayor of the place 
(Bry) where he died, what is said about his father could hardly 
apply to a Paris shopkeeper. The father was a rural functionary, 
" huissier of the bailliage of Cormeilles," and afterwards (1792) 
moved to Orleans, where he was employed on the crown 

* "La Decouverte de la Photographic en 1839." Paris, 1892. 



I GIVE here, by way of supplement to my account of 
Wedgwood's Photographic work, some notes on what is said 
about him by well-known writers on the subject. The earliest 
(known to me) of such notices, that by Arago (1839), has 
already been mentioned. 

Dr. Eder, in his important History,* says : " The invention 
of photography on paper and leather by Wedgwood dates from 
the year 1802 [referring to Davy's Memoir of that year]. 
Many authors give this year as that of the invention of photo- 
graphy generally, which I, having regard to Schulze (1727), 
cannot admit." (As to Schulze, see Appendix A.) Dr. Eder 
points out that the work described in the Davy Memoir (which 
he summarises) should not be attributed, as it is by some writers, 
to Wedgwood and Davy, the latter having only described 
Wedgwood's experiments and furnished an Appendix. He 
considers Arago to have been wrong when, in his memoir laid 
before the French Academy in 1839, "he proclaimed these two 
men as the inventors of photography," though he (Dr. Eder) 
places them " in the rank of those enquirers in the province of 

* "Geschichte der Photochemie und Photographic von Alterthume 
bis in die Gegenwart," von Dr. Josef Maria Eder, Direktor der K. K. 
Lehr und Versuchsanstalt fur Photographic in Wien, &c. &c. 
Halle, a S. Wilhelm Krapp, 1891. 


photo-chemistry who develop facts already known in a more or 
less new direction with more or less deep research (welche schon 
bekannte Thatsachen in einer mehr oder weniger tiefen 
Vorstudium weiter ausbildeten)." These last words seem to be 
a fair description of Wedgwood's work, but surely they are 
equivalent to saying that he was an inventor, though he left his 
invention incomplete ; for do not most inventions nearly all, 
perhaps consist in the application of known facts to new 
purposes ? 

Dr. Eder mentions that Wedgwood's experiments became 
known in Germany in 1803, and from a reference made by Herr 
Schiendel I gather that Davy's account appeared in Gilbert's 
" Annalen " as early as 181 1. 

In Herr Schiendel's History * the notice of Wedgwood 
begins as follows: "In the year 1802 Wedgwood appears to 
have received a suggestion from a scientific society existing in 
Birmingham that called itself the * Lunatic Society,' for making 
an attempt to copy pictures and drawings on glass, and to pro- 
duce silhouettes in the same manner." (Im Jahre 1802, scheint 
Wedgwood von einer in Birmingham existirenden wissenschaft- 
lichen Gesellschaft, die sich * Lunatic Society ' nannte, die Anre- 
gung erhalten zu haben, Versuchte anzustellen, Gemalde und 
Zeichnungen mittelst Silbersalzen auf Glas zu copiren und auf 
ahnliche Weise Silhouetten zu erzeugen.) Herr Schiendel 
does not quote any authority for this story, and I know of 
no foundation for it. Dr. Eder also alludes to it, but doubt- 
fully. He refers in a note (p. 60) to the tale of the "early 
photographs" current in 1863 and 1864, whence I conjecture 
that the supposed intervention of the society was part of that 

The word " Lunatic," which Herr Schiendel naturally thinks 
an odd epithet to be applied to men like Watt and Priestley, 
should be " Lunar." The reference is to a group of private 
friends, living about Birmingham and in the neighbouring 

* " Geschichte der Photographic," von C. Schiendel. Wien, 
Hartlebeas, 1891. 


counties, who were in the habit of spending a day together 
once a month at one or other of their houses in succession. 
Among them were James Watt, Boulton, Captain Keir the 
chemist, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Priestley, Samuel Galton, 
Dr. Withering the botanist, and one or two more. Herschell 
the astronomer, Edgeworth, Sir Joseph Banks, and others are 
mentioned as having been occasional visitors. The meetings 
were held at or near the full moon, doubtless in view of the 
considerable distances which some of the party had to ride or 
drive, whence came the word " Lunar." * I do not know of 
anything to connect the Society with Tom Wedgwood (who 
was from thirty to forty years younger than most of the group), 
except the facts that most, if not all, were friends of his father, 
and that Tom corresponded with Priestley and Keir about his 
experiments on heat and light. Whatever be the origin of the 
story, it has a very apocryphal look. No one who knew the 
facts could have described the " Lunar " friends as a " Scientific 
Society existing in Birmingham," and the statement that the 
Society prompted Wedgwood to an attempt trying to " copy 
pictures on glass" an attempt which he did not make, must 
surely have arisen from a mis-reading of the ambiguous title of 
Davy's " account." 

Herr Schiendel refers to the account as published after 
Wedgwood's death, a mistake which I suppose arises from his 
confusing the photographer with his father, the potter, who had 
died in 1795. Like Dr. Eder, he insists that Schulze was the 
real inventor of Photography, a view which I think is con- 
clusively refuted by Schulze's own Memoir (Appendix A). He 
refers, as does Dr. Eder, to Beccarius and Scheele as "prede- 
cessors " of Wedgwood and Davy a vague phrase, which 
might lead readers to suppose that these earlier physicists aimed 
at turning the facts they were investigating to some graphic use. 
This, as far as I can ascertain, was not the case. Priestley, in 

* A lively account of the " Lunar Meetings " is given in the 
autobiography of Mrs. Schimmelpenninck, a daughter of Samuel 


his "History and Present State of Discoveries relating to 
Vision, Light, and Colours" (1772), gives an account of the 
observations of Beccarius,* Scheele, Schulze, and others, but says 
nothing to show that any of their experiments were directed 
towards obtaining a representation of an object. Dr. Eder 
writes (p. 62) : "Schulze and Beccarius showed that, by 
patterns applied to opaque substances, writings and drawings 
can be copied on chloride of silver exposed to light " (dass man 
durch aufgelegte Schablonen aus undurchsichtigen Stoffen, 
Schriften und Zeichnungen auf Chlorsilber im Lichte copiren 
kann). But on referring to the Commentaries of the Bolog- 
nese Academy, which Dr. Eder quotes as his authority as far as 
relates to Beccarius (with date 1757), I find nothing there to 
fit such a description of his work. The experiments described 
relate to the effect of light on various substances, and the one 
in which its darkening effect on luna cornea is shown is very 
like Schulze's " Observation," including the artifice of sticking 
a piece of black paper on the side of the glass : but I find 
nowhere a word as to copying either patterns, or writings, or 
engravings, or anything else.t 

I notice this apparent error of Dr. Eder's because, occurring 
in a work of high authority, it has probably misled other writers. 
In many of the histories of photography, especially the more 
popular books, one meets with loose statements as to the earlier 
physicists whose observations prepared the way for the art, with- 
out any attempt to distinguish between photochemical and photo- 
graphic experiments. I find, for instance, in one of these 

* James Bartholomew Beccaria of Bologna, not, as Dr. Eder and 
Herr Schiendel call him, John Baptist Beccaria, Professor of Physics 
at Turin. 

t Vol. iv. of the "Commentaries" (pp. 84-87) has an account of 
experiments by Beccarius and Bonzi on the effects of light on various 
substances. The heading is " De vi quam ipsa per se lux habet non 
colores modo, sed etiam texturam rerum salvis interdum coloribus, 
immutandi." These " Commentaries " include a number of tracts 
or papers by different writers or editors. The only one I find by 
Beccarius himself is one on phosphorescents : " De quam plurimis 
phosphoris nunc primum detectis." Tom 2, pars altera, p. 136. 


popular histories (after an account of the invention of the 
camera obscura) a chapter beginning: "Nothing further appears 
to have been done in photography until T. Wedgwood, a son 
of the famous potter, took up the subject" These last words are 
wholly misleading. Before Wedgwood " the subject " did not 
exist, no one, so far as we yet know, having thrown out the 
idea of making a picture by means of light. 


I HAVE not succeeded in finding any definite statement as to 
when, or through whom, this fact first became known. A 
paper by Professor Draper, of New York, printed in the 
Philosophical Magazine for 1847 ( vo ^ 3> P- 345)? contains 
expressions which seem to imply his belief that Thomas 
Wedgwood was in effect the discoverer of the law, whereof that 
paper was apparently intended to give a complete proof. 
Draper describes its objects thus : 

1. To determine the point of incandescence of platinum and 
to prove that different bodies become red hot at the same 

2. To determine the colour of the rays emitted by luminous 
bodies at different temperatures. 

3. To determine the relation between the brilliance of the 
light and the temperature. 

After describing some experiments which led him to put the 
temperature of incandescence at 977, he says: "Against the 
No. 977 it may also be objected that antimony melts at a 
much lower temperature and yet emits light before it fuses. If 
this statement were true it would lead us to believe that all 


bodies have not the same point of incandescence. But I think 
the experiments of Mr. Wedgwood on gold and earthenware are 
decisive on that point ; and moreover, I have reason to believe 
that the melting-point of antimony is much higher than is com- 
monly supposed." 

In his preamble, Draper says : " Sir I. Newton fixed the 
temperature at which bodies become self-luminous at 635, Sir 
H. Davy at 812, Mr. Wedgwood at 947, Mr. Daniel at 900." 
Draper seems to be here confusing the two Wedgwoods, father 
and son. It was Josiah, the father, who, in a paper on his 
"Pyrometer," in the Phil. Trans, for 1784, gave a table of 
comparative temperatures, one entry wherein is " red heat 
fully visible in the dark 947." If he had meant by this that 
all bodies become luminous at that temperature, his son certainly 
would not have used the language we find in his paper of eight 
years later. I have not discovered where it is that Newton 
makes the statement Draper ascribes to him. It is not in his 
"Scala graduum caloris" given in the Phil. Trans, for 1701. 

A paper by Professor Kirchhoff in *Pogg. *<fnn. y vol. 109, 
translated in Phil. Mag. for July 1860, on the relation between 
the radiating and absorbing powers of different bodies for light 
and heat, gives a more general treatment of the subject, 
extending, so far as I understand it, the law indicated by 
T. Wedgwood, and applying high mathematics to the problem. 
One of KirchhofPs conclusions is thus expressed : " It follows 
that all bodies, when their temperature is gradually raised, begin 
to emit waves of the same length at the same temperature, and 
therefore become red hot at the same temperature, emit yellow 
rays at the same temperature, &c." 

From all that I can learn on the matter, I infer that we may 
regard T. Wedgwood as the discoverer of this curious and 
important physical law. 


PRIESTLEY'S move to America was in 1794, just at the time 
when Coleridge, Lovell, and Southey were hatching the famous 
Pantisocracy scheme which was to " realize the age of reason " 
on the banks of the Susquehanna. They were hoping the 
philosopher would join them, but he set up his household gods 
at Northumberland, a little town or village in Pennsylvania. 

" Lo ! Priestley there, patriot and saint and sage, 
Him, full of years from his loved native land, 
Statesmen bloodstained and priests idolatrous, 
By dark lies maddening the blind multitude, 
Drove with vain hate." 

(Religious Musings.) 

This is Coleridge's fiery account of Priestley's exile, written 
in 1794, when he was in the white heat of his young revolu- 
tionary fervour. But it is curious, when we turn to Priestley's 
letters to his neighbours at Northumberland, to find him 
enlarging on the rancorous vehemence with which he was 
maligned and attacked in that land of freedom. Pennsylvania, 
equally with Warwickshire, had its " priests idolatrous," who 
"maddened the blind multitude" against the " saint and sage." 
u At a Baptist Chapel," we read, " the minister burst out and 
bade the people beware, for c a Priestley had entered the land' ; 
then, crouching in a worshipping attitude, exclaimed, * Oh ! 
Lamb of God, how they would pluck Thee from Thy 
Throne.'" (Life by Rutt, ii. 263.) 


A CIRCUMSTANCE in the after-history of the annuity has been 
made the subject of speculation and criticism by various writers, 
for which reason I think it well to notice it here, though it 
occurred some years after T. Wedgwood's death. He be- 
queathed to Coleridge an annuity of 75 a year, being one hair 
of the 150.! No part of the annuity had previously been settled 
legally upon him. Mr. Dykes Campbell's statement that Tom's 
half had been so settled is an error. This is clearly shown by 
the language of the will. Moreover, there was no mode in which 
such a promise could have been made legally enforceable, in the 
absence of what lawyers call a " valuable consideration." This 
fact had been ascertained by T. W. in the case of the annuity 
which he gave to Leslie, and that promise was therefore embodied 
in a simple letter, which left it binding in honour though not in 
law. Josiah Wedgwood, indeed, in his letter of January 1798, 
alludes to " securing " the annuity to Coleridge, but by this he 
can only have meant arranging for its payment through a bank 
or otherwise. The brothers cannot have forgotten what passed 
in the Leslie case about a year previously. 

Thus, after T. W.'s death, Coleridge received 75 a year 
from Tom's executors up to the time of his death in 1834. 
But at some time near the end of 1812 Josiah ceased paying 
the 75 a year which he had theretofore been paying on his own 


account. It is not known what reasons led him to do this, 
or what, if anything, passed between him and Coleridge 
on the subject. Nothing has transpired to suggest that 
Coleridge ever made any objection or remonstrance. A long 
and effusive letter of his to Poole (Feb. 13, 1813 : Letters, p. 
611) is not only free from any trace of resentment or com- 
plaint, but overflows with expression of love and gratitude towards 

Josiah's act has been criticised as having the appearance of 
a breach of the promise made in the letter of January 1798 
(p. 55). That view, however, rests on a strained interpreta- 
tion of the language of the letter an interpretation incon- 
sistent with the essential facts of the case. " Without any 
condition annexed to it " was an unlucky phrase ; for it said, or 
seemed to say, what the writer could not mean, while it did not 
say what he did mean. The brothers could not have meant to 
promise that, under any conceivable circumstances, whatever 
Coleridge should do or not do, should be or not be, they would 
give him ^150 a year for life. Such a promise would have been 
merely senseless. The annuity was given for a purpose, and the 
purpose necessarily made a condition, vague, but substantial. It 
was not annexed to the promise, but it was inseparably bound 
up with the transaction. Hazlitt, who was with Coleridge 
when he accepted the offer, describes it in the words " devote 
himself to the study of poetry and philosophy," and " to dissuade 
him from abandoning poetry and philosophy for the ministry." 
And nobody has ever read the story otherwise. Coleridge, in 
accepting the offer, was in fact undertaking to occupy himself in 
work of that kind, or at any rate in intellectual work of some kind. 
By taking the annuity he undertook to carry out its purpose, as 
really as the Wedgwoods undertook to give him the money. 
When Josiah wrote " no condition annexed " he simply meant 
to say, " We do not stipulate that you must write so many pages 
per annum of poetry, or such and such philosophical essays ; we 
shall not prescribe any specific task ; we wish you to be free to 
do the work you think best worth doing ; you will best judge 


how to work and what to work at." To read the words " with 
no condition annexed " as equivalent to " under all or any con- 
ceivable circumstances " is to make the promise absurd. Cole- 
ridge was about to become a Unitarian preacher. He might 
have taken orders and become Bishop of Durham, with twenty 
or thirty thousand a year. Or he might have turned out a 
wholly depraved character, might have forged the Wedgwoods 
names on bills of exchange, or become an irreclaimable profligate. 
Will any one say that in any of such cases the brothers would 
be bound in honour to go on paying him ^150 a year for life 
because they did not " annex the condition" that he should 
not become a bishop, or a convict, or a debauchee ? But we 
do not know that the obligation he undertook was not some- 
thing of a specific kind. For we have not before us all that 
passed between him and the brothers in January 1798. The 
most important sentence in Josiah's letter begins : "After what 
my brother Thomas has written : : . " That imports Tom's 
letter into the offer : but what his brother Thomas had 
written we do not know, nor do we know what Coleridge 
wrote in accepting the offer. It is possible that these lost 
letters might give some clearer indication of what the brothers 
hoped or expected him to do. At all events, without them we 
do not know all that passed in 1798, any more than we know 
what passed in 1812. 

No one can now say exactly what prompted Josiah's action at 
the latter date. But we may, I think, assume that his view on 
the question of honour and obligation was that above expressed. 
If he had thought himself bound in honour to go on paying he 
would certainly have done so. He was not only a man of 
presumed probity and honour, but a man who, during the 
whole of a long life, was conspicuous for his large-minded 
generosity. Remembering what Charles Darwin wrote about 
him (" the very type of an upright man I do not believe that 
any power upon earth would have made him swerve an inch 
from what he considered the right course ") we may dismiss 
the suspicion that his act was prompted by any mean or petty 


motive. In view of Coleridge's utter failure, during' all the 
fourteen years elapsed since 1798, to make his life in any degree 
consonant with the obligation cast on him by the annuity, he 
must have felt himself free to consider the question afresh. In 
going on with the payment was he doing good or harm ? His 
brother's moiety was irrevocably given as from 1805 ; but that 
did not forbid his considering the matter afresh so far as it con- 
cerned his own action. Indeed he was bound so to do. That 
he did consider it carefully is certain ; for we know, though 
the fact comes to us only by oral tradition, that when one of his 
sons, long afterwards, asked him why the payment ceased, he 
replied : " I had ample reason for what I did," and would say 
no more. He was the most reticent of men, and would 
naturally hate to talk about that most miserable time in 
Coleridge's life. What those words meant will be for ever a 
secret. He probably knew much which we shall never know. 
With such a man as Coleridge, and a man in such a state, no 
imaginable possibility would be unbelievable. But I should not 
myself read the words as implying any specific misdoing on his 
part. A simpler explanation is more obvious. The most 
essential fact in the case appears clearly in a letter of Southey to 
Cottle, 1 7th April 1814. (This was a year or more after the 
withdrawal, but Southey's statements evidently apply to the 
immediately preceding years.) He is pointing out the futility 
of a proposal made by Cottle to collect funds for giving 
Coleridge 150 a year. "No part of Coleridge's embarrass- 
ment arises from his wife and children, except that he has 
insured his life for .1000 and pays the premium. He never 
writes to them, and never opens a letter from them. . . . 
Perhaps you are not aware of the costliness of this drug. In 
the quantity which C. takes, it would consume more than the 
whole which you propose to raise. A frightful consumption of 
spirits is added. Proposals after proposals have been made to 
him by the booksellers, and he repeatedly closed with them. 
He is at this moment as capable of exertion as I am, and would 
be paid as well for whatever he might be pleased to do. There 



are two Reviews the ' Quarterly ' and the ' Eclectic,' in both 
of which he might have employment at ten guineas a sheet. 
As to the former I could obtain it for him ; in the latter they 
are urgently desirous of his assistance. He promises and does 
nothing. . . . Nothing is wanting to make him easy in 
circumstances and happy in himself but to leave off opium, and 
direct a certain portion of his time to the discharge of his duties. 
Four hours a day would suffice."* 

" My case," wrote Coleridge himself, " is a species of mad- 
ness, only that it is a derangement, an utter impotence of the 
volition, and not of the intellectual faculties." (To Cottle, 
26th April, 1814.) 

This had been his state for some years. In February 1810 
we find Josiah writing to Poole : " It seems the ' Friend ' is at 
an end. I fear Col. is a lost man . . . I see the wreck of 
genius with tender concern, but without hope." Similarly 
Wordsworth (March 1808): "He has no voluntary power of 
mind whatsoever, nor is he capable of acting under any con- 
straint of duty or moral obligation." 

Evidently this terrible condition, a " madness " or paralysis 
of the will and moral sense, was not to be mended by a money 
subsidy. If the "pitiable slavery to opium" could be ended 
there would be no lack of money. But the subsidy was only 
aggravating the evil, by making it easier for him to indulge in 
the pernicious drug, easier to acquiesce in the slavery. Josiah 
Wedgwood must have known the facts, and who can say that 
they did not justify his conclusion ? We must not forget that, 
at that time, the wreck of Coleridge's life must have seemed to 
every one final and irrevocable ; though only about three years 
later there came the turning-point; when he summoned up 
courage to seek for protection from himself, and at length, by 
wonderful good fortune, found himself in that haven of rest, 
under the care of the Gillmans, which made the last eighteen 
years of his life comparatively happy. 

* Cottle's "Reminiscences, 1848," p. 37. Another letter of 
Southey's to the same effect is quoted by Dykes Campbell, p. 204. 


Mr. Dykes Campbell's treatment of this incident (f>. 192 of 
his book) seems to me I write it with regret, remembering 
what we owe to him rather lacking in the care and judgment 
which are generally so conspicuous in his work. I have noticed 
above the mistake of fact upon which it partly rests. He also 
remarks that " Mrs. Coleridge was the sufferer by the with- 
drawal, for the whole (of the annuity) had been for many years 
at her disposal." This may be true, but it hardly touches the 
main question Josiah had to decide. Any regular aid he gave 
the wife evidently went to remove, pro tanto^ one of the 
husband's chief inducements to exertion. It may be said > 
indeed, that a man in his then condition would not be 
influenced by any such notice. But this is answered by the fact 
that he did afterwards make the effort which led to his recovery i 
and who can say that he was not helped thereto by what 
Josiah did ? 



THE following is a summary made from the copy Probate at 
Somerset House : 

Will dated 13 June 1805. Proved 4 Jan. 1806. 

Executors : Josiah Wedgwood, of Gunville, and Dr. Robert 
Waring Darwin, of Shrewsbury. 

The main disposition is the gift of Residue to his two 
brothers, John and Josiah, and his three sisters, Susan Darwin, 
Catharine, and Sarah, in fifths. 

There are a number of small legacies to servants and to 
village people at Gunville. 

Bequest of furniture at Eastbury to his mother, and of plate 
to Catharine and Sarah : his watch and seals to his nephew, 
Josiah, son of his brother Josiah. 

Bequest of annuity for life of 150 to John Leslie (to be 
^250 in case of his marriage), conditionally on his not having 
from other sources more than ^200 a year ; or ^300 if married. 

Power to buy an annuity for him. 

Bequest of annuity for life of 75 to " Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge, now or late of Stowey, near Bridgwater, gentle- 
man," to be paid half-yearly, clear of all deductions except in- 
come tax, with power to the executors to purchase an annuity 
for him ; he not to have power to sell, assign, or mortgage it. 

After this there is the following special bequest : " Whereas 
there are several persons to whom I have given assurance of 


pecuniary assistance towards their maintenance so long as the 
same shall be necessary and there may after my decease appear 
claims for pecuniary remunerations and advances which said 
several persons and the circumstances giving rise to such claims 
are well known to my said brother Josiah Wedgwood, I do 
therefore give and bequeath unto my said brother Josiah Wedg- 
wood the sum of five thousand pounds Upon trust to assist such 
persons and satisfy such claims according to his own discretion." 


IF some competent person would take the pains to sum up the 
multifarious uses now made of photography, the hundred ways 
in which it aids study, research, and work of various kinds, 
scientific, artistic, social, legal, and many more, such a list 
would give us some measure of the importance of the art to the 
world. But it would be a task demanding an almost encyclo- 
paedic knowledge of modern activities. To take one illustra- 
tion only, the use of the camera in observatories seems to be 
daily disclosing fresh wonders in stellar astronomy, wonders 
which no human eye, however laboriously applied to the eye- 
piece of a telescope, could ever have discovered. A quite 
different aspect of the question may we not, perhaps, say 
a higher ? certainly one too often forgotten is vividly set 
forth in some words of John Richard Green, the historian, 
which I will make the epilogue to this little book. They are 
words which would have pleased the sympathetic soul of Tom 
Wedgwood. Green was, it may be remembered, for many 
years a hardworking clergyman in a very poor district of East 
London. He is giving a sketch of the noble work of Edward 
Denison in that region (" Stray Studies," p. 13) : 

" What do you look on as the greatest boon that has been 
conferred on the poorer classes in later years ? " said a friend to 


me one day, after expatiating on the rival claims of schools, 
missions, shoeblack brigades, and a host of other philanthropic 
efforts for their assistance. I am afraid I sank in his estimation 
when I answered, " sixpenny photographs." But any one who 
knows what the worth of family affection is among the lower 
classes, and who has seen the array of little portraits stuck over 
a labourer's fireplace, still gathering together into one the 
"home" that life is always parting the boy that has "gone 
to Canada," the girl " out at service," the little one with the 
golden hair that sleeps under the daisies, the old grandfather in 
the country will perhaps feel with me that in counteracting 
the tendencies, social and industrial, which every day are 
sapping the healthier family affections, the sixpenny photograph 
is doing more for the poor than all the philanthropists in the 


ABNEY, Sir W. de W., K.C.B., 198. 

Alderson, Georgina Lady, 1 7977. 

tl Alfred," Cottle's epic poem, 108. 

Allen, Catherine, see Mackintosh, Catherine. 

Allen, Elizabeth, see Wedgwood, Elizabeth. 

Allen, Fanny (1781-1875), sister of T. W.'s sisters-in-law, her "Re- 
collections," 1 24 ; her view of Poole's proposal for Kitty Wedg- 
wood, ioi#. ; scene with Coleridge at Cresselly, 124, 125. 

Allen, Jane, see Wedgwood, Jane. 

Annuity given by J. and T. Wedgwood to Coleridge, 55, 399 ; 
Wordsworth's description of it, 59 ; parallel, or partly parallel 
cases, 59, 59. ; an immediate result, 61 ; incident in its later 
history, 254, 599. 

Arago, Fran9ois (1786-1853), 231, 232, 233, 237. 

BANKS, Sir Joseph, P.R.S. (1741-1820), 17. 

Beddoes, Dr. Thomas (1760-1808), 33 ; the Pneumatic Institute, 

34, 599; his medical theories, living with cows, &c., 35 ; his 

death, 183. 

Thomas Lovell (1803-1849), 330. 

Beethoven, 59^., 6on. 

Bell, Sir Charles, 211. 

Blacklock, Dr. (1721-1791), blind poet, 7, jn. 

Blanquart-Evrard, 233, 236, 237. 

Boddington, friend of Mackintosh, 160. 

Bull, use of, in child training, 209. 

CAMPBELL, Thomas (1744-1844), poet ; at the King of Clubs, 97 ; 
his account of T. W., 144, 145, 163. 

266 INDEX 

Charles, J. A. C. (1746-1823), of Paris, supposed photographer, 229 ; 
his silhouettes variously described, 231-239; summary of dis- 
cussion, 239. 

Chisolm, Alexander, T. W.'s teacher in Chemistry, &c., 5-7; ad- 
vises as to his studies, 8. 

Coleridge, Sara, the poet's wife, 121, 126. 

Sara, the poet's daughter, i2/. 

S. T. (1772-1834) first acquaintance with T. W., 49; 

his fantastic scheme of life, 53 ; offered an annuity by the 
Wedgwoods, 54^.; accepts it, 57 ; a first result, his stay at 
Gottingen, 61 ; interpreter of Germany to England, 6in. ; J. S. 
Mill's estimate of him, 63 ; Carlyle's -satire, 64*7. ; on Malthus, 
69; life in London, 74, 79; life at Keswick, 102-110; 
" Christabel," 105, io6. ; "accursed Wallenstein," 105; es- 
tranged from his wife, 112, 114; with T. W. in S. Wales and 
at Cresselly, 121-126; reading "The Leechgatherer," 125 ; 
cream and music, 123 ; at Keswick with T. W., 129 ; his feel- 
ings when among the hills, 132, 133 ; Kitty Wedgwood's 
criticism of his character, 139 ; his character of Hazlitt, 146 ; 
sick at Grasmere, the Wordsworths' goodness to him, 167 ; 
leaving for Malta, 170 ; last letter to T. W., 172 ; hearing of 
Beddoes' death, 183 ; "The Friend," 180,181. 

Letters of: to T.Wedgwood, 74, 77, 113, 118, 132, 135, 

137, 146, 166, 169, 170; to Josiah Wedgwood, 68, 93, 102, 

104, no ; to Poole, 120 ; to his wife, 121. 
Cote House, abode of John Wedgwood, 42 
Cottle, Joseph (1770-1853), printer and early friend of Coleridge : 

his mutilation of Coleridge's letters, xii., xiii. ; Lamb's amusing 

description of his Epic, 108, 109, 
Cows, living with, a medical regime, 36. 
Crompton, Dr., 168. 

DAGUERRE, Dominique, agent of Josiah Wedgwood, 244. 

Louis (1789-1 85 1 ), inventor of Daguerrotypie, 202, 2020. ; 

a fanciful theory about him, 244. 

Darwin, Charles (1809-1882), T. W.'s nephew, 212, 213, 213*. ; 
his admiration for his uncle Josiah Wedgwood, 41. 
- Mrs. Charles (1808-1896), T. W.'s niece, 420. 

Erasmus, physician and poet (1731-1802), father-in-law of 

T. W.'s sister Susannah, 6, 212. 

INDEX 267 

Darwin, Robert Waring, physician (1766-1848), husband of T.W.'s 

sister Susannah, 40, 42, loin. 
Davy, Sir Humphry, famous chemist (1778-1829), 37, 187; his 

lack of imagination, 194; his "Account "of T.W.'s photography, 

189 sqq. ; circumstances of its so-called publication, 196-197 ; 

his slackness in the matter, 198, 200, 201. 

Dr. John, brother of Sir H. D., 198. 

Day, Thomas (1748-1789), 209. 

De Quincey (1785-1859) ; his half-mythical account of T. W., 36 ; 

description of T. Poole, 50. 

Derwentwater, scenery about, described by Coleridge, 103-110. 
Dick, Mr. ("David Copperfield "), 1950. 
Drewe, Caroline, sister of T. W.'s sisters-in-law, 179. 
her daughters, 1 790. 

EDER, Dr., writer on photography, 217, 224^., 236, 239-246, 247. 
Edgeworth, Maria, 420. 

R. Lovell, 6. 

Edinburgh University, in 1786-1788, the Wedgwoods' experiences, 

FRANCE in 1792 : T. W. in Paris, 25. 

GERMAN, begun to be studied in England, 211. 
language and philosophy unknown to T. W., 211. 

Godwin, William (1756-1836), author of " Political Justice," 290. ; 
gets money from T. W., declines a copying machine, 29, 30 ; 
he and T. W. agree best at a distance, 3 1 ; correcting T. W.'s 
English, 31 ; in London, 97 ; helped by T. W., 177. 

Greta Hall, Coleridge's abode at Keswick ; set Coleridge. 

HARRISON, Mr. Jerome, 199, 

Hazlitt, William (1778-1830), 57, 1450., 146. 

Horner, Francis (1778-1817), 160. 

Hunt, Robert, 237. 

Hutchinson, Sarah, Wordsworth's sister-in-law, 133. 

INOCULATION, T. W.'s efforts to spread the practice, 44. 
Invasion, alarms of, 1803-1804, 150 sqq. 

KANT, 211. 

268 INDEX 

Keir, James, chemist, 6, 19. 
"King of Clubs," 97. 


Lawson, Sir G., Coleridge's neighbour, 103 ; offered a buffalo and 
rhinoceros, 108. 

Leslie (Sir) John (1766-- 183 2) physicist, 1 1 ; at Etruria to instruct 
the Wedgwoods, 11-16; his grand epistolary style, 11-15 > 
has an annuity from T. W., 46, 47 ; offers marriage to Sarah 
Wedgwood, 80 sqq. ; his book on Heat, 173. 

Lodore, scenery about, described by Coleridge, 133. 

Lowther, Lord, 156. 

Lunar, miscalled " lunatic," meetings, 247. 

Luff, Charles, and his wife, 126, 175. 

MACKINTOSH, Sir James (1765-1 832), brother-in-law of T. W.'s sisters- 
in-law, 43 ; lecturing, 80 ; founds the " King of Clubs," 97 ; 
discussing metaphysics with T. W., 1 1 1 ; promises to edit his 
philosophical work, 157-159, 207, 208 ; goes to India, a "send- 
off" by family and friends, 157 ; learning German, 211, 537*. ; 
possibly editor of an essay by T. W., 21 in. 
Catherine, Lady, sister of T. W.'s sisters-in-law, 43, 160. 

Mayer and Pierson, MM., 234. 

Meteyard, Eliza : her life of Josiah Wedgwood, 6n. ; mythical account 
of T. W.'s photography, 241 sqq. 

NAPIER, Macvey, biographer of Leslie, 1740. 

Napoleon, his seizure of English travellers, 141; threatened invasion, 

154, 154*. 
Niepce, Nicphore, the first successful photographer, 202, 2O2., 227. 

CERSTED, his discovery, 195. 

POOLE, Thomas (1765-1837), 49 ; described by De Quincey, 50 ; 
the link between Coleridge and the Wedgwoods, 51; his action 
as to the Coleridge annuity, 57 ; sorrow at failure to get the 
Wedgwoods to settle in Somerset, 67 ; seeking to marry Kitty 
Wedgwood, 98 ; close attachment to T. W., 67, 68. 

Priestley, Joseph (1733-1804), the famous chemist, 6 ; helping T. W. 
in his investigations, 19 ; settles in America, 28, 253 ; his 
account of Schulze's word-pattern experiment, 225. 

INDEX 269 

READE, J. B., photographer, 204, 205. 
Rogers, Samuel, poet (1763-1855), 97. 

" Royal Institution of Great Britain " : Wedgwood's light-pictures 
done in its laboratory, 187 ; its early history, 187, 197. 

SALISBURY, The late Marchioness of, 179. 

Sandford, Mrs. H. : her memoir of T. Poole, 49. 

Schiendel, Dr., writer on photography, 217, 226, 236. 

Schulze, Hermann (1687-1744), described as the inventor of pho- 

tography, 218-227. 
Sharp, Richard (1759-1834), known as "Conversation Sharp," 17, 

1 8, 97, 163 ; his view of T. W.'s metaphysics, 209. 
Smith, Robert or " Bobus," 97. 
Smith, Sydney, 157 ; on the comparative virtues of the Allen sisters, 

159, 1 60. 

Stewart, Dugald, 125, 125^. 
Switzerland, T. W.'s tour in, 45. 

TALBOT, W. H. Fox (1800-1871), his photographic discovery, 203, 
2O3//. ; a point in his process obtained indirectly from T. W t) 
204, 205 ; author of a photograph falsely attributed to 
T. W., ,43. 

Tennyson, " In Memoriam" and Evolution, 213^. 

Tissandier, G., 234, 235. 

Tobin, James, friend of Wordsworth, 520.; 97, 143;*. 
- John, 

UNDERWOOD, T. W.'s travelling companion, 140. 

VOLUNTEERING in 1803-1804 : 150 sqq. ; at Etruria, 156 ; " Wedg- 
wood's Mountaineers," 152. 

WATT, Gregory, 97. 

Watt, James (1736-1819), 6, 73 ; letter as to T. W.'s light-pictures 

Wedgwood, Bessy : see Wedgwood, Elizabeth. 
- Catharine ("Kitty") T. W.'s sister (1774-1823), 40; 
loiw., 160 ; her view of Coleridge's character, 139. 
- Elizabeth ( Bessy "), born Allen, wife of T. W.'s brother 
Josiah (1764-1846), 40 ; her character, 42 ; T. W.'s affection 
for her, 162-164 5 T. W. in her nursery, 165. 

270 INDEX 

Wedgwood, Hensleigh, (1803-1891) nephew of T. W., i86. 

Jane, born Allen (1771-1836), wife of T. W.'s brother 

John, 40, 42. 

John (1766-1844), T. W.'s eldest brother, 2, 3, 40 ; a bad 

financier, leaves Cote, 173 ; founder of Horticultural Society, 


Josiah (1730-1795), father of T. W., 6, 6n. 

Josiah, (1769-1843), T. W.'s elder brother, 7 sqq., 10; his 

close union with Tom, 41 ; his character, Charles Darwin's 
account, 41 ; offer of 100 to Coleridge, 54 ; offer of annuity 
to Coleridge, 54 sqq. ; Sheriff of Dorset during the invasion 
alarms, 153 ; his action as to Coleridge in 1812, 254 sqq. 

- Josiah, Tom's nephew (1795-1880), 165. 

Sarah (17 -1815), Tom's mother, 153-156. 

Sarah (1776-1856), Tom's sister, 40-43 ; sought in marriage 

by Leslie, 80, sqq. ; her last years, 85^.; her "angelic kind- 
ness," 163. 

- Sarah Elizabeth (1793-1880), daughter of Tom's brother 
Josiah : records Fanny Allen's recollections of T. W., 124 ; as 
a baby, 165. 

Susannah (1765-1817), Tom's eldest sister, wife of Dr. R. 

Darwin ; 40, 212. 

Tom (1771-1 805) : birth and boyhood, I -6; a letter eet. 12, 

2 ; offers to manage his father's pools, 4 ; at Edinb. Univ., 7-10 ; 
working at the Pottery, 10,27; at Natural Philosophy, 10; 
earnest views of Life, 13; working at physics, 17 sqq. ; heat 
and light, Roy. Soc. papers, 17 sqq. and 251, 252; experiments 
in vacuo, 21-23 ; has to give up experimenting, 21 ; wretched 
health, 23, 24, and passim; in Paris, 1792, 25; thinks of 
America, 28; inhaling laughing-gas, 37; butcher's shop story, 
36, 37; preaching inoculation, 44; gives annuity to Leslie, 46, 
47 ; acquaintance with Poole and Coleridge, 49 ; and with 
Wordsworth, 5 1 ; search for place of abode, 64-67 ; settles in 
Dorset, 72 ; voyage to W. Indies, brothers' first separation, 86 ; 
letter from Martinique to his family, 89 ; return from W. 
Indies, 93; temporarily better, 94, 95; London Life, 97; 
metaphysics, in ; foreign tour, in ; to Paris, 1892, 112; in 
S. Wales with Coleridge, 121; at Cresselly, 124; seeing 
Wordsworth at Grasmere, gives Wordsworth an impression of 
"sublimity," 127 ; terrible despondency, 128 ; to Geneva and 

INDEX 271 

flight home, narrowly escapes being detenu, 14?; forms a 
Volunteer corps, 151; near despair, 1 60; trying housework, 
146 ; scheme of seclusion, 161 ; at his worst, completely sane, 
172 ; difficulties as to travel-companion, 173 ; to Ulleswater 
and the Luffs, 175 ; thinks of buying a place there, 176 ; help- 
ing friends, 176, 177 ; a painless end, 179. 

various estimates of his character : by Coleridge, in " The 

Friend," 181 ; by Coleridge in letters, 122, 182; by Campbell, 
144, 145 ; by Sydney Smith, 180; by Wordsworth, 127 ; Fanny 
Allen, 124; Bessy Wedgwood, 180. 

his photographic work; date doubtful, 20, 186, 187; 

described by Davy, 187, 189-194; the so-called publication of 
Davy's Account, 195, 197; his process the germ of present- 
day processes, 198; mythical story of his work, 241-245. 

his Psychology and Metaphysics ; Pref., 207, 2070., 210 ; 

Rousseauism, 208 ; child-training methods, 209 ; Enquiry into 
notion of distance, 21 in. ; his Sociology pre-Darwinian, a 
personal link with Evolution, 212, 213. 

Wordsworth William (1770-1850) : T. W.'s first acquaintance with 
him, 52 ; his feeling as to the annuity to Coleridge, 59; his 
legacy from Raisley Calvert, 59;^"The Leechgatherer " read 
by Coleridge at Cresselly, 1 25 ; his impression of T. W.'s personal 
appearance, 127; with " Wedgwood Mountaineers," 152; 
"Lyrical Ballads," 52. 

Dorothy (1771-1855), 49-52. 

Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &* Co. 
London &* Edinburgh 


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